Monday 16 December, 2019

World Diabetes Day Message from the Healthy Caribbean Coalition

A message from Maisha Emtage, Executive Director of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition and Dr. Diane Brathwaite, Clinical Director of the Barbados Diabetes Foundation

Written By: Dr. Diane Brathwaite, Clinical Director of the Barbados Diabetes Foundation, a member of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition

World Diabetes Day is a day where we take the opportunity to acknowledge every person who lives with a diagnosis of Diabetes Mellitus, every family member who lives with someone with diabetes, every person who is at risk of Diabetes, every victory and every failure. Today we acknowledge and salute you all.

Diabetes Mellitus is a disorder which has risen progressively in prevalence throughout the Caribbean, with some of our islands having significantly higher rates of Diabetes than other Western, European and Asian populations. Barbados for example has reached the stage where up to 18.7% of the population over the age of 25 years has a diagnosis of Diabetes and rates of over 45% in populations over the age of 65 years.

These high prevalence rates pose great challenges to us as small developing nations. In the Caribbean economic resources and growth remain clear challenges yet we are faced with a disease that easily outstrips both healthcare resources and budgets, and - for many persons where increasingly deprivation is a reality - individual resources. It has become clear that as Ministries and Health Care entities, Diabetes management must encompass, Diabetes Prevention, early Prediabetes Diagnosis and aggressive management, regular screening for all the complications of Diabetes and aggressive Cardiovascular Risk reduction. Diabetes management and prevention therefore must entail an approach therefore that encompasses the life cycle, from before the child is born, when the mother is breast feeding, when the child is in school and grows into a productive working adult and ultimately becomes an elderly person.

We have moved away from a model of care which involves the careprovider being the dictator of the care pathways, and moved to the model of encouraging the development of educated, empowered clients and family members who become active decision makers in their care. We have also moved away from the concept of a sole care provider and into the understanding that such empowerment is the responsibility of a multidisciplinary team of different types of care providers such as diabetes specialist nurse, dieticians and podiatrist to name a few, working side by side with the physician and the client.

As we embrace this year’s World Diabetes Day Theme: Protect your Family,I wish to suggest that many perspectives should be used when understanding the concept of family in relationship to Diabetes. The first family we wish to recognize is the immediate family. Living with a diagnosis of diabetes and living well with diabetes is certainly more achievable when a person living with diabetes has supportive persons around them, creating healthy environments both from the perspective of lifestyle choices and mentally healthy environments.

The second type of family is that of the community. With the very high prevalence rates of diabetes a community based and nationwide approach must be taken towards encouraging those with diabetes to live well and remain well controlled. This approach will also be effective in encouraging persons at risk to engage in patterns of behavior and care to reduce their risk.

The third family is the workplace environment where workplaces and managers adopt a proactive approach towards wellness and facilitate the person with diabetes taking the best care of themselves. Included in this is recognizing that meal and medication timing are very important in diabetes management. Finally the medical family, which is represented with the client as the center of care. This family should be open, activated listeners, empathetic and understanding of the challenges related to living with Diabetes.

I wish to encourage persons, that we see a world where diabetes can be reduced, complications prevented, and a world where people live not just good but amazing lives with Diabetes as fully active participants of their communities despite its challenges. One day a cure will be found but until then celebrate every single day of your life. Happy World Diabetes Day.

For more information on WDD 2019 visit: worldiabetesday.org

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