Health Ministry launches teacher manual as part of World Diabetes Day observances
living with the two chronic diseases. Additionally, about 28,000 people access care through the primary health care institutions, while the others utilise the services of private institutions; however some do not accept that they are diabetic.
Guyana already spends almost $300M on diabetes medicines alone however, when the private sector contributions are added, medicines alone account for more than $400M on an annual basis.
The Health Ministry launched observances for World Diabetes Day with one of the key notes being the launch of a simple teachers’ manual that provides basic information on diabetes and aids the building of skills and knowledge, thereby enabling them to effectively manage children who may be diabetic while they are at school. The Rotary Club is also playing a key role in this area, and will be visiting the schools of registered children with diabetes to interact with the staff.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, noted that the day also marks the birthday of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, first conceived the idea which led to the discovery of insulin in 1922. Over time, this development has resulted in the early detection and treatment of diabetes.
Persaud explained that diabetes can start in early childhood and advances due to the persons lifestyle as they grow older. When diabetes is brought on in childhood, it is as a result of an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.
He pointed out that globally, about 340 million people are affected by diabetes, with 80 percent of that number representing people in developing countries.
The risk for diabetes is a very complex one, and most times is related to people’s lifestyles – diet, lack of exercise and stress levels; hence the thrust is to provide early diagnostic care where testing and treatment can be accessed, he said.
The Health Ministry has also been implementing several programmes aimed at addressing the complications of diabetes relating to neurological problems and damage to the eye and foot.
With assistance from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Guyana has been able to establish foot care clinics at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation and regional diabetic foot centres in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 10. In this regard, Dr. Persaud is calling on the public to get tested and be aware of their body mass index.
Importantly, since the start of the Guyana Diabetic Foot project, there has been a reduction of about 50 percent in the number of amputees at the GPHC.
The establishment of the National Ophthalmology Centre in Port Mourant, Region 6, and eye care outreaches carried out by the Regional Health Services significantly contribute to the detection of diabetes and its treatment, with regard to the eye. On the other hand, it must be noted that many people can use oral medication to control diabetes instead of insulin.
Dr. Persaud emphasised that programmes are in place to address Type 1 diabetes which affects youths. In this case, efforts are directed through support to over 30 children (Type 1 diabetics) who are provided with testing kits and materials to monitor their illness. In addition, special youth camps are facilitated by the ministry for the child and family to boost awareness, care and management of diabetes.
Dr. Persaud noted that now the Health Ministry is promoting self-monitoring of diabetes, in between visits to the health care provider, since many people now have their own testing devices. Recently, a new level of testing, the A1C test, was introduced which adds tremendous value to the management of diabetes and points to how diabetes is controlled between visits, and takes into account diet.
In an effort to boost awareness, several health professionals are undergoing training in various aspects of diabetic care, and at the end of the programme, it is expected that 350 health workers will complete this. The training focuses on diabetes and hypertension management, particularly addressing areas including the patient’s diet, weight loss, physical activity and medication.
Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) Representative, Dr. Beverly Barnett, reiterated that with regard to tackling non-communicable diseases, a political declaration was signed in September which will see all United Nations member states responding to NCDs in a coordinated manner and will accommodate cross-sectoral efforts. (GINA)