Diabetes: Main Cause of Death in Many Caribbean Countries

Diabetes is among the main cause of death in The Bahamas, Jamaica and Dominica. Health officials in The Bahamas have described the disease as a “national epidemic.” In a recent conference, Bahamas Health Minister Dr. Perry Gomez said that diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death for all ages with a rate of 29.2 deaths per 100,000 people. Jamaica and Dominica express similar concerns:

Addressing the Continuing Medical Education Department/Department of Surgery’s Diabetic Foot Symposium at the College of The Bahamas’ Grosvenor Close Campus, Dr. Gomez challenged healthcare professionals “to endeavour to do more in the prevention of this non-communicable disease.” (The Symposium was held in conjunction with the Princess Margaret Hospital and the University of the West Indies School of Clinical Medicine and Research, Bahamas Campus.)

Dr Gomez said statistics from the Princess Margaret Hospital show that there was an average of 100 “lower extremity amputations” in The Bahamas from the period 2002-2006, and that there were 165 below the knee amputations in 2002 alone. The Health Minister said the rates could be higher as figures from the Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport, Grand Bahama, and Doctors Hospital in New Providence have not been included. “These numbers represent a significant number of limbs lost, and lives that are irrevocably changed,” Dr. Gomez said. “Surely, these rates are unacceptable. The time has come for us to focus on prevention and education of the citizens of this country. [. . .] Dr. Gomez said the loss of limbs to amputation diminishes the quality of life for most amputees. He said the statistics regarding amputations were particularly significant given the fact that diabetes can be prevented.

Meanwhile, reports Caribbean 360, Jamaica’s Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson, in a message marking World Diabetes Day, said that 173,642 Jamaicans over 25 years old and 6,914 youths 15-24 years old suffer from diabetes. “Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death accounting for 12.9 per cent of all deaths in Jamaica. Yet, 80 per cent of type II diabetes is preventable. Death and disability from diabetes and non-communicable diseases can be prevented by addressing the four main lifestyle risk factors which are physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol.” [. . .] But he said that in order tackle these behaviours, “we must start early, and target children and youth as behaviours are formed early in life”.

In Dominica say the articles, Health Minister Julius Timothy is equally disturbed about recent trends related to the disease. “I am deeply concerned with the increase in the number of amputations due to diabetic ulcers, a preventable condition in Dominica. Diabetes is known to be a contributing factor to the development of blindness and kidney disease,” he said. Timothy said more than 35 people were presently on dialysis at the Princess Margaret Hospital, due mainly to diabetes, and urged all stakeholders to begin to take responsibility to protect the health of future generations.

For full articles, see http://www.bahamaislandsinfo.com/~bahamais/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=13115:diabetes-now-considered-a-national-epidemic-in-the-bahamas&catid=34:Bahamas%20National%20News&Itemid=147, http://diabetes-dominica.org/  and http://www.caribbean360.com/index.php/news/barbados_news/635457.html#axzz2CUaBzNq1

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