November 8, 2013
More fire power needed in the fight against diabetes

Fri Nov 08, 2013

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment will join the International Diabetes Federation and the rest of the world to celebrate World Diabetes Day 2013 on November 14.{{more}}

As part of efforts to keep diabetes education and prevention prominent in the minds of our citizens, the Ministry, more specifically, the Community Nursing Service (CNS), has organized a week of activities beginning this Sunday.

Our nurses, particularly those who work in the CNS are on the frontline of the battle to combat chronic non-communicable diseases like diabetes and are therefore well placed to host the week of activities. We commend them for their efforts and pledge our support in this ongoing struggle.

Diabetics and hypertensives (these conditions tend to go together) account for fully 75 per cent of visits to our district clinics and rural hospitals, placing a substantial burden on the public purse. Diabetes is a major public health problem, which experts say is emerging as a pandemic. In 2011 the International Diabetes Federation reported that 366 million persons were diagnosed with diabetes and projected that this number will increase to 552 million by 2030.

When one considers the burden diabetes places on the public purse, and the effect it has on the human body, and hence quality of life, one wonders why diabetes has not evoked the kind of response we have had to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Diabetes affects our blood vessels and nerves and therefore can affect any part of the body. Heart disease, high blood pressure, nerve damage, kidney disease, eye diseases, digestive problems and erectile dysfunction are among the more common complications experienced. We very often ask whether we are living in a war zone, when we consider the large number of amputees in Vincentian society. Amputations are visible, but the other complications of diabetes are just as prevalent and devastating, though not as obvious to the onlooker.

Worldwide, huge amounts of resources, financial and human, were, and are being plowed into the fight against HIV/AIDS. We are of the view that diabetes merits a similar response. The message about how serious this disease is needs to be driven home much more forcefully.