This week I had the opportunity to visit one of the outer islands, Peleliu, for work. The purpose of the trip was to assist with health screening and provide nutrition support where required. My ulterior motive was to broaden my nutrition assessment to include some of the less populated places.
|Welcome to Peleliu! Where the fishing is good and the life is simple.|
|At the dock in Koror waiting for the boat to leave.|
|Nice day to be out on the water|
|Not a bad way to get to work|
It took us just under an hour to get to Peleliu via the smaller boat. On the way we got to take in the scenery of crystal clear waters, blue skies and some very beautiful and isolated beaches and Rock Islands. Just as we were leaving Koror a largish sea turtle poked his head out of the water. I think he was wishing us well. I just absolutely love sea turtles. They are by far my favourite marine creature and I knew I was going to have a good day.
|Island View Motel- more like sea view. Our digs for the night.|
|Beached as boat!|
|Who you gonna call!?! Our wheels in Peleliu!|
|Peleliu- tide going out|
|Cats of Peleliu- I wanted to take this one home with me sooo bad!|
|Cats of Peleliu- Siamese twins|
It was a worthwhile experience. I think I am starting to scratch the surface of the nutrition issues faced in Palau. As far as health issues are concerned, the stats show high rates of overweight and obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Like most Pacific Island and Micronesian communities, diets have shifted away from traditional and local foods to ones that are energy dense, nutrient poor and low in fibre, high in salt, fat and sugar; a chronic disease cocktail. Having spent a bit of time with people here I think tastes are skewed to a salty/sweet balance and they consume packaged foods at most meals. For example canned beef, like spam, and ramen cup noodles are commonly consumed for breakfast (and most other meals). On a sweet note, sugar sweetened beverages such as iced tea, vitamin waters, sodas etc. are drunk by most people by the gallon every day.
The Nutritionist in me really wants to get into it and work towards increasing awareness and changing behaviours but I keep needing to remind myself that my role here is to build the capacity of the people around me to do the work; once that’s done then the fun stuff can begin!
|Main Road into Peleliu|
|Peleliu Community Health centre & hospital|