Diabetes Study, Treatment for Islanders

A major diabetes study and treatment protocol for the Line Islands in Kiribati has been announced by PIMA and the University of Southern California Institute for Global Health.

The study, spearheaded by Pacific Islands Medical Aid volunteer endocrinologist Dr. Elizabeth Beale of the Keck School of Medicine at USC, will get underway this summer with the aid of a $10,000 grant from the institute and participation of two masters of public health students at the university.

Previous World Health Organization (WHO) studies in the Kiribati capital of Tarawa show that nearly 30 percent of all adults in Kiribati suffer from Type 2 diabetes, Dr. Beale said.

She said the aim of the study will be to determine the prevalence of pre-diabetes and diabetes in the Line Islands, the prevalence and magnitude of risk factors, the prevalence of diabetes complications and to provide medical treatment for patients with established diabetes.

The study and treatment program has been arranged by invitation from the Line Islands Medical Officer in Charge, Dr. Teraira Bangao on Christmas Island.

USC masters of public health students Ms. Alexandra Anderson and Ms. Brooke Lejeune will work under the direction of Dr. Beale for the study. Dr. Beale, who will also travel by boat from Christmas Island to the outer islands of Tabuaeran and Teraina, will also see and treat diabetics while there.​​​​

The Blind Can See Again…

Mikaere's surgery

Mikaere’s surgery

Annie Hiller of Project Vision Hawaii, stands with Mikaere shortly after he arrived in Honolulu. Annie 'made it happen' in Hawaii. We are forever grateful.

Annie Hiller of Project Vision Hawaii, stands with Mikaere shortly after he arrived in Honolulu. Annie ‘made it happen’ in Hawaii. We are forever grateful.

Volunteers in Honolulu pulled together last month to help restore sight to Christmas Islander Mikaere Baraniko and have offered to help another from the island this summer.

Mikaere, who has diabetic retinopathy and who could not be treated on Christmas Island, has now undergone successful surgery thanks to volunteers at Project Vision, Hawaii, The Retina Institute of Hawaii and it’s vitreo -retinal surgeon Dr. Eugene W. Ng, with material and supplies donated by Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) in Santa Barbara, California.

Housing and transportation while in Hawaii has been provided Mikaere by PIMA volunteer Nei Rerei Timon and her husband, “who have been a wonderful help to us and the people of Kiribati for many years,” said PIMA president Carlton Smith.

Dr. Eugene Ng, Retina Institute of Hawaii surgeon, stands next to Mikaere just prior to surgery.

Dr. Eugene Ng, Retina Institute of Hawaii surgeon, stands next to Mikaere just prior to surgery.

Later this summer, similar surgery will be done on another blind patient from Christmas Island, Nei Lucy Kofe.

“All of the wonderful specialists who have helped these blind patients were pulled together by our volunteer ophthalmologist Dr. Paul Jorizzo of Medford, Oregon, who has donated his valuable time for cataract surgeries on Christmas Island and continues to be a great help to everyone there,” Smith said.

Hospital Gets Satellite Internet

Up and Running: The new satellite internet system for little Christmas Island in Kiribati is being installed by Marcus Crouch, owner of Antenna Sales and Service in Tyler Texas, while PIMA board member Joe Cuthbertson (at right) and a local volunteer offer help.

Up and Running: The new satellite internet system for little Christmas Island in Kiribati is being installed by Marcus Crouch, owner of Antenna Sales and Service in Tyler Texas, while PIMA board member Joe Cuthbertson (at right) and a local volunteer offer help.

The little hospital on Christmas Island, Kiribati, now has reliable satellite Internet communications, thanks to PIMA’s purchase of the system and installation by volunteers last month.

The hardware, purchased from Rural Internet Connectivity System (RICS) in Australia, was flown to Honolulu earlier this year, then shipped to Christmas Island aboard the sailing vessel Kwai.

PIMA volunteers Marcus Crouch and Joe Cuthbertson joined organization president Carlton Smith on Christmas Island last month to install and activate the system.

Smith said the system will now connect the isolated little hospital on Christmas Island with the outside world and hopefully be used by the doctor and nurses there to connect with specialist U.S. physicians who have offered to volunteer their services when requested.

“This is indeed a great achievement,” said Kiribati Health Minister Elliot Ali. “Please convey my big thank you on behalf of the Ministry of Health to all members of the Pacific Islands Medical Aid team for all the generous support that they have rendered to our people in that part of Kiribati,” he said.