Categorized | Editorials

Diabetes — Chronic and Costly!

No matter how the cookie crumbles anywhere in this world, diabetes is bad news; it maims, it kills and it undermines both national health and security.

In short, diabetes is disastrous; and as we know, diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Hyperglycemia, or raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body’s systems.

Worse yet an unprecedented cloud of Bahamians is today grappling with a disease which causes so much damage to many of the body’s systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels.

People worldwide are at risk; and as such a decision has been made to raise global awareness of this scourge; thus World Diabetes Day, November 14th. 2012.

Focus is therefore being put on figuring out how it can be prevented or if contracted, mitigated.

Incidentally, World Diabetes Day was started by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and WHO.

The Day is celebrated on 14 November to mark the birthday of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, was instrumental in the discovery of insulin in 1922, a life-saving treatment for diabetes patients.

Diabetes is but one of a number of so-called chronic, non-communicable diseases and therefore linked to diet, nutrition and life-style.

As the World Health Organization reports, “…Chronic diseases…are by far the leading cause of mortality in the world, representing 60% of all deaths. Out of the 35 million people who died from chronic disease in 2005, half were under 70 and half were women…”

The same WHO reports concludes on this somber note, “…This invisible epidemic is an under-appreciated cause of poverty and hinders the economic development of many countries…”

Evidently, we are not alone as this scourge spreads like wild fire.

Imagine a time and then imagine in that same small-island place a morbid situation on the ground where tens of thousands of people are set on their way to an early death due – in no small measure- to causes that are completely preventable.

Today’s so-called modern Bahamas is but one of those places where tens of thousands of people are dying from and suffering with any number of chronic non-communicable diseases.

Information coming in reports, “…Diabetes is now considered a national epidemic in The Bahamas and is the fifth-leading cause of death for all ages locally with a rate of 29.2 deaths per 100,000 persons annually, Minister of Health Dr. the Hon. Perry Gomez said Tuesday.

As the Minister insists, “…I am therefore committed to ensuring that available resources and manpower will be wisely used to assist in minimizing the escalation of the disease…”

Dr. Gomez also said that the prevention and/or reduction in the number of diabetic cases in The Bahamas deserves our special attention if we are to bring the numbers down to a more manageable level.

Addressing the Continuing Medical Education Department/Department of Surgery’s Diabetic Foot Symposium at the College of The Bahamas Grosvenor Close Campus, Dr. Gomez challenged healthcare professionals to endeavor to do more in the prevention of this non-communicable disease.

Dr. Gomez said statistics from the Princess Margaret Hospital show that there was an average of 100 lower extremity amputations in The Bahamas from the period 2002-2006, and that there were 165 below the knee amputations in 2002 alone.

The Health Minister said the rates could be higher as figures from the Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport, Grand Bahama, and Doctors Hospital in New Providence have not been included.

These numbers represent a significant number of limbs lost, and lives that are irrevocably changed, Dr. Gomez said.

Surely, these rates are unacceptable. The time has come for us to focus on prevention and education of the citizens of this country.

The Symposium was held in conjunction with the Princess Margaret Hospital and the University of the West Indies School of Clinical Medicine and Research, Bahamas Campus.

The sum of the matter is simple enough; diabetes can be overcome.
But too, if left unattended, diabetes remains both costly and chronic.

WHO estimates that more than 346 million people worldwide have diabetes. This number is likely to more than double by 2030 without intervention. Almost 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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