CHARLESTOWN, Nevis: Nevisians have been asked to pay greater attention to their health, mindful of the increasing number of diabetics on the island.
The call came from Minister of Health, Hensley Daniel, in his address to mark the United Nations annual observance of World Diabetes Day last Monday.
“We have to continue to focus on prevention, treatment, care and support. With 34 new cases in Nevis in 2010 bringing the total to 325, compared to 28 in 2009 and 28 in 2008 we have to pay closer attention to our daily habits.
“If diabetes runs in the family, it behooves the members to pay close attention to diet by drinking large amounts of water, consume fruits and vegetables and reduce the intake of carbohydrates,” he said.
Daniel explained that the increasing number of diabetics on Nevis was a worrying trend and pointed to the effects of the disease.
“Although medication is available, diabetes attacks the smaller organs of the body and causes renal failure and poor vision. It is imperative that diabetics take their health into their hands and follow the treatment regime outlined by the health providers,” he said.
The health minister said the cost of the chronic disease included medication, hospitalization, amputation, renal failure, dialysis care, the time lost from work and death.
He said when those factors were considered, it was clear that diabetes brought with it a huge financial burden and noted that it also increased the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Daniel also stressed the importance of changing the diet of children and urged parents to not take the matter lightly.
“I wish to make a particular call to parents to change the diet of the children. It is no longer fashionable to consume the food of the North Atlantic because we will become chronically ill. We urge you to reduce the intake of sweets, increase the consumption of water and fresh fruits and vegetables. Think of the cost of diabetes,” he urged.
As Nevis joined the world in the United Nations observation of World Diabetes Day, a global awareness campaign of the diabetes community, Daniel said that diabetes was a serious challenge the world could no longer afford to ignore.
He said the Ministry of Health in Nevis was playing its part and facilitated early screening, supported diabetic clinics island wide, developed new diets through the School Meals Program, opened the Agro-Processing Plant at Prospect, ratcheted up the education on diabetes through a robust program at the Health Promotion and Prevention Unit and provided medication for needy persons who were diabetic.
“We will continue to aggressively work toward the prevention and treatment but we need the help of all of us to reverse the trend to diabetes. We need all hands on deck.
“Given the social, psychological and financial burden of diabetes, we have to double our efforts at prevention, treatment, care and support. May God grant us the strength and courage to make a difference,” he said.