Let’s beat diabetes with healthier lifestyle choices
THE WORLD Health Organization states that the number of people with diabetes, a non-communicable disease, has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. In 2012, an estimated 1.5 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes and another 2.2 million deaths were attributable to high blood glucose. Over 200,000 Jamaicans aged 18 years and older are living with diabetes. In 2014, over 2,000 Jamaicans over five years old died from diabetes mellitus, and it was the second leading cause of death for women and the third leading cause of death for men in this age group.
Diabetes and its complications continue to affect so many and is a burden on families and healthcare delivery. According to a Harvard 2016 study, the economic burden of diabetes
in Jamaica is US$2.34 billion. Diabetes can lead to complications in many parts of the body, such as stroke, blindness, heart attack, kidney failure, and amputation. This year’s theme ‘Eye’ on Diabetes’ is a timely one that focuses on promoting the importance of screening to ensure early diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes and treatment to reduce the risk of serious complications.
It is estimated that over 20,000 persons, 20 years and older, with diabetes in Jamaica will have some form of diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that can lead to vision impairment and blindness. It is therefore important that all doctors ensure their clients with diabetes are screened for diabetes complications. Every person living with diabetes should also make routine visits to their doctor.
High levels of obesity are associated with high levels of diabetes. Jamaicans are twice more likely to develop diabetes if they are overweight or obese. Diabetes is preventable and as such I
am encouraging everyone to make some lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Some of these lifestyle changes include eating a healthy diet; being physically active; avoiding excessive weight gain; getting regular check-ups and knowing your diabetes status; following medical and advice and keeping your appointments. If you already have diabetes, you must manage the disease by following the treatment plan given by your doctor as well as getting screened for complications. We can beat diabetes with healthier lifestyle choices. Let’s beat diabetes. DR CHRISTOPHER TUFTON Minister of Health