Government Working To Fight Diabetes

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Minister of Health,??Donville Inniss??

Government remains committed to the battle against diabetes in Barbados.

This pledge was made today by Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, in light of statistics showing that this country had recorded the highest mortality rates following diabetes-related amputations, and the second highest rates for major and minor amputations in the world.

These findings were revealed at the opening of a "Step by Step Programmme on Diabetic Foot Care" workshop, held at the Pan American Health Organisation Headquarters, at Dayrells Road.

Mr. Inniss said Government would be leasing for up to 25 years, 3,335 square metres of land at Warrens, St. Michael, to the Diabetes Foundation of Barbados, to construct its headquarters – a diabetes centre and a clinic.

He stated that the importance of improving patient care within public healthcare facilities was paramount and an updated treatment regime would be formulated shortly. This, he outlined, would also extend to the Physiotherapy Department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and rehab services in other facilities, along with an orthosis and prosthesis facility to assist those in need of such services.

The Health Minister pointed out that the National Nutrition Centre would soon formally launch the Nutrition Guide for Healthy Living, targeted principally at students. The Guide would serve to educate them, their parents and guardians about the fundamentals of eating the right foods, the need for exercise and leading less stressful lives.

Mr. Inniss disclosed that 17 per cent of persons over the age of 40 in Barbados had diabetes, with 22 per cent of them falling in the 65+ category. He said the overwhelming majority of these cases were Type Two, and had a strong hereditary component. In addition, the Health Minister noted that the most recent Behaviour Risk Factor Survey indicated that 15.6 per cent of Barbadians over 25 were diabetic.

The worrying outcome of this situation, he suggested, was that five to 10 years after diagnosis, the complication rate rose exponentially, with cardiac disease, kidney disease and amputations making up the majority of these complications.

"It is well known that persons who have had an amputation due to ischemia or other challenges are at risk for other complications and premature death. Fifty per cent of persons who have had a major amputation will unfortunately die within five years. According to statistics, it is also estimated that the one year incidence of lower limb amputations in Barbados is approximately 940 per 100,000 of the population, and although this represents both major and minor amputations, diabetes is the leading cause, followed by peripheral vascular disease," he lamented.

The Health Minister said the length of hospital stay for diabetic foot complications was also worrisome and indicated that some patients spent an average of 17 to 20 days. "Chronic diseases continue to account for 60 to 65 per cent of all admissions to the surgical and medical wards of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital," Mr. Inniss disclosed.

In light of this situation, he issued a warning to Barbadians to become better managers of their health and to focus more on prevention. He stated that his Ministry would continue to provide glucometer strips, insulin and other pharmaceuticals free of cost to diabetes, even though the medication incurred the third highest costs for the Barbados Drug Service.

The two-day workshop for health professionals was organised by the Rotary Club of Barbados South, the International Diabetes Federation, the World Diabetes Foundation and the Barbados Diabetes Foundation, in collaboration with the Health Ministry.

It is aimed at identifying the high risk diabetic foot, the early recognition of pathology and timely referral for further care.

clashley@barbados.gov.bb

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