An assessment of non-communicable diseases, diabetes, and related risk factors in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Majuro Atoll: a systems perspective

Henry M Ichiho, Ione deBrum, Shra Kedi, Justina Langidrik, Nia Aitaoto
Hawai'i Journal of Medicine & Public Health: a Journal of Asia Pacific Medicine & Public Health 2013, 72 (5): 87-97
Non-communicable diseases (NCD) have been identified as a health emergency in the US-associated Pacific Islands (USAPI).1 This assessment, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was conducted in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Majuro Atoll and describes the burdens due to selected NCD (diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, chronic kidney disease); and assesses the system of service capacity and current activities for service delivery, data collection and reporting as well as identifying the issues that need to be addressed. Findings reveal that the risk factors of poor diet, lack of physical activity, and risky lifestyle behaviors are associated with overweight and obesity and subsequent NCD that are significant factors in the morbidity and mortality of the population. The leading causes of death include sepsis, cancer, diabetes-related deaths, pneumonia, and hypertension. Population-based survey for the RMI show that 62.5% of the adults are overweight or obese and the prevalence of diabetes stands at 19.6%. Other findings show significant gaps in the system of administrative, clinical, data, and support services to address these NCD. There is no policy and procedure manual for the hospital or public health diabetes clinics and there is little communication, coordination, or collaboration between the medical and public health staff. There is no functional data system that allows for the identification, registry, or tracking of patients with diabetes or other NCDs. Based on these findings, priority issues and problems to be addressed for the administrative, clinical, and data systems were identified.

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