WELLINGTON, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- Early results from a Fiji eye health survey by The Fred Hollows Foundation New Zealand revealed alarming levels of diabetes amongst people over 40.
A staggering four out of every 10 people screened were found to have diabetes, and more worryingly, a third of these were unaware of their condition, showed the survey released on Monday.
Fijian Indians were shown to be most at risk with over half of those screened having diabetes.
In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health estimates 9 percent of people aged over 40 have diabetes.
The survey, the first of its kind in Fiji, was undertaken by Hollows New Zealand after seeing increasing numbers of people with diabetic eye disease, which can be blinding if not detected and treated early enough.
The impact of this epidemic on an already overstretched health system should not be underestimated, said Hollows NZ's International Program Director Tom Schaefer.
"The survey results will be invaluable in refining the diabetes eye health service we set up in September through Hollows NZ training center, the Pacific Eye Institute, in partnership with the Colonial War Hospital," he added.
An important part of this service will be training eye health professionals in diabetic eye disease diagnosis and treatment. Doctors and technicians from Fiji, Samoa, the Solomon Islands and Tonga will start training at Hollows NZ's Pacific Eye Institute from February 2010.