Vincentians benefit from health fair
November 16, 2012

Vincentians benefit from health fair

World Diabetes Day was celebrated in St Vincent and the Grenadines on Wednesday with a healthly lifestyle fair hosted by the Ministry of Health.{{more}}

Diabetes, a disease that features excessively high sugar levels in the blood and the body’s inability to create or use its own insulin, was one among many health related issues featured at the fair.

Kishore Shallow, the system administrator for the Ministry of Health, stated that the ministry collaborated with LIME in an effort to sensitize the nation about the effects of diabetes in their daily lives.

He further stated that the fair was not primarily about diabetes.

“It’s not just about diabetes today. We want to ensure that we do a comprehensive exhibition of stuff and services that are offered by the Ministry of Health,” Shallow said.

Diabetes is a growing health issue in St Vincent and the Grenadines and this was highlighted by Harvey Farrell, a health educator.

“During the five-year period, 2007 to 2011, we’ve had over 350 amputation procedures at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital,” Farrell said.

He emphasized that the numbers were significant for any small country, particularly one like St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Health Educator explained that there are various symptoms of diabetes. These symptoms would often include blurred vision, dizziness, fatigue, itching of palms and soles of feet, urinating frequently and an increase in appetite, but a loss in weight.

However, there are instances where no symptoms may be experienced.

“Some persons may not experience any symptoms,” Farrell said, “until they may go to the hospital for one reason or the other.”

He suggested that any individual experiencing these symptoms should see a health care provider.

Loss of toes, fingers and sometimes entire limbs are one of the life changing effects of having diabetes.

These amputations are usually done when the blood sugar level is consistently high and as a result, there is reduced circulation and sensations in limbs.

Amanda Whitley, a staff nurse, was one of the nurses doing foot care at the fair.

Whitley explained that she was using a Doppler machine to check circulation in the feet.

She outlined that the machine works by listening to pulses from three major veins in the foot.

An individual who participated in the fair said that he thought the initiative was a good idea.

“Some people are walking the streets and they don’t know if they have high blood pressure or sugar and they just stop so and collapse,” he said.

Although there is no cure for diabetes, it can be controlled in various ways.

Farrell said the two main ways of controlling the disease is exercise and dieting. He also stated that in cases where the blood sugar level is unmanageable, medication is used.

The Health Educator said that eating foods from all the food groups in the right proportions and drinking adequate amounts of water are vital in the dieting of a diabetic individual, as well as those that wish to prevent an onset of the disease.

“Diabetes comes with a high price; we have to pay a social price,” Farrell said.

“If you have to lose limbs…it means you are no longer as mobile as you used to be…it can lead to a reduction in income,” he remarked.

The one day event ran from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and featured many other branches of health.

These included the Community Nursing Services who were doing checks on vitals, the Nutrition Unit, conducting Body Mass Index (BMI) calculations and advising persons on healthy dieting and the Caribbean HIV & AIDS Alliance who were educating the public on HIV/AIDS and safe sex.