A homegrown community development nongovernmental organization, the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development (FRIEND) aims to empower communities in Fiji’s rural and underserved regions. Based on the west coast of Fiji’s main island, FRIEND works to improve the knowledge, skills, and resources of communities through a variety of integrated social, economic, and health interventions.
One of FRIEND’s current programs targets a key health issue among Fijians: diabetes. In 2011, Pacific Islands Forum Leaders declared Fiji a noncommunicable disease crisis zone, with NCDs accounting for 80 percent of all deaths in the country. Of those NCDs, diabetes is the number-two killer, second only to cardiovascular disease.
In response, FRIEND has launched the SMILE initiative: Sustainable Medicine Improving Lives through Empowerment. SMILE adopts a community medicine approach, with medical workers, such as doctors, nurses, exercise specialists, and physiotherapists, conducting regular NCD clinics in remote or poor communities. Each community is screened for diabetes. Patients with diabetes receive follow-up care and referrals, and the entire community receives support in starting its own exercise programs and appointing its own physical exercise leader or coordinator.
Focused around adopting a healthy diet, further awareness programs include developing backyard gardens so that communities can grow their own fruits and vegetables.
About David Pflieger
David Pflieger - Senior Airline Executive