The construction of a Diabetes Centre for Clinical Excellence at Warrens St Michael is well advanced and will be available to the public by the end of this year.

This news has come from Senior Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kenneth George, while he made remarks at a Diabetic Foot and Amputee Symposium, held at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, yesterday.

??"The Ministry of Health is happy to be collaborating with the Diabetes Foundation of Barbados in supporting the work of a Diabetes Centre for Clinical Excellence wherein Barbadians from all walks of life will have a state-of-the-art facility that will combine the services of prevention, early intervention, treatment and rehabilitation.???? It is planned that when this facility is up and running dialysis care services will be available to those who have end stage kidney disease," Dr. George pointed out.??

The Centre will be located on a plot of land just behind the Warrens Polyclinic, and is expected to function as a referral centre for the provision of care to persons who may be experiencing serious challenges in controlling their diabetes, or whose cases cannot be handled at the primary care level.?? Work at the centre is also expected to assist in the reduction in the number of persons afflicted by serious complications of diabetes such as blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and amputations.??

He noted that the challenge to reverse the epidemic was to implement sound and sustainable prevention and control strategies through timely policy and programme development.??

"Although this symposium is fully endorsed, our effort must be more ???upstream’ so as to prevent amputations from occurring in the first place. Risk factor reduction including abstinence from tobacco, regular physical activity and exercise and adoption of [a] healthy diet are all simple measures to achieve this goal," Dr. George told his audience.

One quarter of all adult Barbadians have a chronic non-communicable disease and this is expected to rise to one third of all adults within the next 20 years.?? It is estimated that about 20,000 individuals are living with diabetes, however, up to one third of persons at risk for diabetes may be undiagnosed.

"This represents about 14.4 per cent of the over 25 year-old population and 18 per cent per cent of the over 40 year-old population," Dr. George remarked.

The Senior Medical Official complimented the work of the Diabetes Foot Care Committee and the Diabetic Foot Research and Intervention Group, which were both tasked with understanding the needs of diabetics in our population and generating solutions for their health and wellness.

To date, there have been public education campaigns, training of primary care physicians both in the public and private sectors, and the development of a surveillance mechanism for diabetics at risk of developing the diabetic foot. The Diabetic Foot Research and Intervention Group is currently planning a retrospective study to determine all the amputations in Barbados over the last 10 years.

In an effort to support research in chronic disease, Dr. George also pointed out that the Ministry, in conjunction with the University of the West Indies Faculty of Medical Sciences, was working to determine and understand the risk factors for amputation and this study has commenced as a sub-study of the Health of the Nation Study 2012-2013.????

"Only through research will the Ministry of Health be able to make well informed decisions on behalf of the public, and I am pleased to state that the research agenda of the Ministry of Health continues to be alive and well," he said.

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