As Barbados continues to grapple with the high burden associated with diabetes, both in terms of healthcare costs and loss of productivity, Health Minister John Boyce has outlined an array of interventions initiated by the Ministry of Health.

Speaking at a cocktail reception yesterday hosted by the Pan American Health Organisation to celebrate World Health Day, Mr. Boyce disclosed that one in five adults in Barbados was diabetic, and almost half of the population, aged over 65, had the disease.

???These findings have very serious implications for all of us. They indicate that persons at risk of diabetes and those with pre-diabetes need to be identified early through screening interventions, using traditional risk factors such as advanced age, family history, presence of hypertension and being overweight or obese.???

Treatment, he stressed, must be implemented early to prevent complications such as lower limb amputations, blindness and neuropathy.??The Health Minister said that through its polyclinic services, Government was using multiple approaches to diabetes care.

The non-communicable disease clinic at the Winston Scott Polyclinic had been strengthened and patients were now benefitting from annual physical examinations, clinical investigations and therapeutic education.

This allowed patients to interact with healthcare professionals to design a personalised care plan for the management of their condition, he explained.??At the polyclinic at the David Thompson Health and Social Services Complex in St. John, another approach had been adopted, he revealed, which embraced the chronic care model.

This approach was inclusive of the patient, the healthcare team and the community, and was applied not only to the management of diabetes but also to a wide array of other preventive services, he added.

At the St. Philip and Edgar Cochrane polyclinics, the Ministry is collaborating with Yale University to provide specialized diabetes treatment. Mr. Boyce said that when fully operational, patients will benefit from annual eye checks through digital retinal photography as well as care from specialized teams including podiatry and nutrition.

The Ministry also collaborates with the Diabetes Foundation of Barbados to provide specialised treatment for diabetics who meet specific criteria to assist them in gaining better control of the disease. Up to February this year, 367 patients had been referred from the polyclinics to this programme.

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