Meri Radinibaravi
2 November, 2022, 2:00 pm
Christine Maharaj with son Mervin Chute. Picture: SUPPLIED
Diabetes is a debilitating disease that causes of a lot of pain and suffering for persons afflicted with it and their family members.
According to the International Diabetes Federation, diabetes was responsible for 6.7 million deaths in 2021 – one every five seconds.
And in a bid to raise awareness on the impact the noncommunicable disease causes, November is recognised by many countries as National Diabetes Month.
The Health Ministry in Fiji says 30 per cent of Fijians have diabetes, so there is a one in three chance of developing or having diabetes.
For mother of two Christine Maharaj, having a diabetic child has been a real eye-opener for her, given the fact that no one else in her family – past or present has had or does have diabetes.
Her son Mervin Chute was diagnosed as Fiji’s youngest type 1 diabetes patient on February 23, 2022, when he was just one and a half years old.
Type 1 diabetes, according to is when your body has stopped producing insulin altogether.
People with type 1 diabetes need to inject insulin to live. Ms Maharaj said she had no idea her son was diabetic until they took him to the Colonial War Memorial (CWM) Hospital for a check up.
“He was sick for about a few  weeks, we took him to a couple of doctors who gave their different diagnosis with the medication associated with the diagnosis,” she said. “We gave him medication but it never cured him.
“Then the Saturday we took him to CWM, he was breathing heavily and was constantly drowsy.”
She said the intern nurse who attended to them took them to her senior nurse who immediately diagnosed Mervin with type 1 diabetes just from noting the symptoms of the sickness he had.
Ms Maharaj said it was challenging at first for the family when Mervin returned home but they managed to adjust themselves to deal with his special needs.
“It was challenging at first because of the fear. The thing with diabetes is that people immediately think of amputation or death.
“So when we tell people about Mervin being diabetic, 90 per cent of the people blame us.
“They say ‘oh you give him too much sweets’ but with Mervin, he was born with the sickness.”
Ms Maharaj said having to inject her son daily with insulin was a challenge – both for them as parents and for Mervin.
“At first it was scary for us to actually give him injections, but then we had to psyche ourselves up and just do it.
“Another thing is that since he’s a toddler he doesn’t know that he’s not allowed to eat certain things but now he knows, he’s learning.
“When it’s time for injection, he psyches himself up.”
She said they were blessed to have a son who was aware of what was happening because they had to take his glucose level five times a day.
“It’s not curable so in the future, if we do not control his sugar levels now then there’s a slight possibility that he can be amputated but we pray that we don’t end up there.
“So now we teach him the little things – that lollies need to be avoided altogether. We don’t buy it anymore.
“We have to keep a little in case he has a low sugar count and we have to give him something sweet but other than that we don’t just leave sweets around the house. “That is just to ensure it doesn’t tempt him as well.”
Ms Maharaj said when Mervin goes to parties, he would have to go on a diet the day after.
“At first it was hard but if he goes to a party, he has whatever is there.
“But with him we’ve noticed that he’s very active so he burns off the sugar.
“But if he does have a small slice of cake and the next day he’ll go on some type of fast where we just give him soup, nothing sugary and if it’s a snack maybe a quarter of an apple or half a glass of milk.
“But if he goes to the party and he plays a lot and his sugar level is fine than its fine.”
She encourages other mothers with diabetic children to not be too hard on themselves.
“It’s OK to cry, it’s OK to mess up every now and then.”
A statement from Diabetes Fiji Inc chairman Taabish Akbar stated diabetes and its effects on the people of Fiji are well documented and that the burden of health and costs of the individuals, families, workforce and government was alarming.
“Figures released by the International Diabetes Federation in 2020 revealed that 15.1 per cent of Fijian adults have diabetes, however, many more Fijians are undiagnosed,” Mr Akbar said.
“Such global trends of alarming scales have prompted  Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MOHMS) to focus on Universal Health Coverage as a major response by taking health services out to the people and remodelling delivery towards outreach and decentralisation with the ultimate intent of “leaving no one behind”.
He said Diabetes Fiji Inc and its partners tried to heighten the awareness of diabetes – a topic riddled with myths, controversies and misconception.
“Diabetes is one of the striking challenges of our time, yet, all too often we approach these issues with fragmented and even siloed solutions, and with efforts (however passionate, intense, and even exhausting) that are not sufficient to address the problems at the scale at which they exist.
“These collaborations allow all stakeholders to share their diverse perspectives and resources to jointly solve a societal problem and achieve a shared goal.
“Diabetes as a social issue in Fiji can be tackled through this approach.”
Follow Fiji Times:
Download Our Apps:
Copyright © 2022 Fiji Times Limited. All Rights Reserved.
Follow Us:
Our Apps:
Copyright © 2022 Fiji Times Limited. All Rights Reserved.


By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *