PIHOA: Diabetes continues to be one of the leading causes of death on Guam


A Pacific regional nonprofit shared their health priorities at the Rotary Club of Northern Guam meeting this week.

Since 1986, PIHOA has been working with US Territories and insular areas including American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI, as well as US treaty nations FSM, Marshall Islands, and Palau on several health-related programs.

They are involved in health workforce development, sustainable health financing, leadership development, telehealth, information management systems.

At this week’s Rotary Club of Northern Guam meeting, PIHOA representatives touched on the prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes among their Pacific Island partners.

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Cerina Mariano, PIHOA administrator, said: “Ten years ago the PIHOA board of directors declared a state of emergency on noncommunicable diseases across the US-affiliated islands. NCD’s include diabetes, hypertension, cancer, heart disease, obesity …those types of diseases that have impact in our community.”

Going into trends, Mariano presented data on diabetes across the Pacific nations, emphasizing that this is one of the leading causes of death on Guam. She also linked early obesity to diabetes in her presentation.

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“This slide basically shows the youth on Guam that were surveyed through YRBS. As you can see, about 40 percent of our youth as of 2019 report as obese…that number continues to climb,” Mariano said.

She says males are more likely to have diabetes than females. Ethnicity also is a key factor. She says Pacific islanders are at a much higher risk for diabetes.