From left to right: Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete, Fiji Health Minister; Dr. Davina Nand, head of wellness at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services; George Kwong, 10,000 Toes regional ambassador; Glenn Townend, South Pacific Division president; Shelley Wallace, World Health Organization Pacific director; and Pastor Maveni Kaufononga, Trans Pacific Union president. [Photo Courtesy of Adventist Record]
Australia | Tracey Bridcutt

The 10,000 Toes Campaign, an initiative of Adventist Health, has received the 2022 Healthy Island Award in the Best Practice Category from the World Health Organization for its work in Fiji.

The award was presented today by Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete, Fiji Minister for Health and Medical Services, to Glenn Townend, South Pacific Division (SPD) president, who is currently in Fiji to meet with church leaders and members.

The award recognises the work that 10,000 Toes is doing in helping to address the epidemic of lifestyle diseases, particularly diabetes, in the Pacific. 

“It is a privilege to be acknowledged for our work in this area of lifestyle medicine,” said Pam Townend, 10,000 Toes coordinator for the South Pacific, “and we know this would not have been possible without our dedicated ambassadors and the organizations that support us.” 

The Fiji chapter of 10,000 Toes has more than 2,000 ambassadors working to turn the tide on diabetes, according to George Kwong, regional ambassador. “We currently have a number of wellness hubs where health screening and Lifestyle Intervention Programs are delivered. Our goal is to have over 100 wellness hubs operating by the end of 2025.”

Townend said the 10,000 Toes Campaign is not only in Fiji but also has a presence in six other countries. The campaign currently operates five mobile clinics, has trained more than 4,000 ambassadors, upskilled over 100 professionals, provided over 950 screening kits, and tested over 10,000 people for diabetes. 

“Our work is not over until every village in the Pacific has had an opportunity to go on a health journey,” said Townend, “and we look forward to this challenge.”

Campaign coordinators believe that when evidence-based lifestyle medicine is integrated with conventional medicine, it can prevent, arrest, and, in some cases, reverse lifestyle diseases. 

“Educating and empowering people to make positive lifestyle choices and experience whole-person health is core to our philosophy,” said Geraldine Przybylko, Adventist Health strategy leader for the SPD. “Whole-person health can be defined through the seven dimensions of wellness: emotionally thriving, physically energized, socially connected, vocationally enriched, spiritually empowered, intellectually engaged, and environmentally attuned.”

Przybylko added, “Not only will lives and limbs be saved, but people’s lives will be transformed as the 10,000 Toes Campaign partners with the World Health Organization, governments, and organizations to turn the tide on diabetes and other chronic diseases. We invite you to be part of this story to bring health, healing, and hope to the South Pacific like never before.”. 

Current statistics show that every 20 minutes, someone in the South Pacific has a limb amputated due to diabetes, and this is having terrible ramifications on local communities. Livelihoods are being affected, families impacted, and governments burdened.

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This article was originally published on the website of Adventist Record