Records show that in 2001 the estimated direct and indirect cost of diabetes to the economy of Barbados was in excess of $75 million.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Joy St John, made this disclosure yesterday while speaking at the first annual Multidisciplinary Diabetes Conference at the Hilton Barbados Resort, Needhams Point, St Michael.
St John further stated that in 2007 statistics showed that 29 000 individuals in Barbados were living with diabetes and its complications and a further 5 000 persons had undiagnosed diabetes, or were at a high risk of developing diabetes in the near future.
The Chief Medical Officer noted that coinciding with the prevalence of diabetes was the fact that 70 per cent of adult females and 62 per cent of males were characterised as either overweight and or obese.
St John further noted that for the years 2010 through 2012, there was an average of 25 000 annual visits to the island’s polyclinics by persons with diabetes. On average, 60 persons presented themselves for the first time with the diagnosis of diabetes.
Warning that Barbadians needed to change their life style if they were to overcome the threat presented by diabetes and other non-communicable diseases, St John said: “It is estimated that 30 per cent of school aged children are overweight and another 14.4 per cent are obese. The Global School Health Survey 2012 indicates that 75 per cent of children drank fizzy drinks three or more times per week. The survey further showed that only 40 per cent were achieving the recommended 60 minutes of moderate daily physical activity and exercise. It also showed that only 30 per cent of school aged children were consuming the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables per day.”
The top health official lauded the work being done by the Diabetes Foundation of Barbados under the leadership of Dr Oscar Jordan.
She noted that the foundation has realised its goal of providing primary and secondary care diabetes services at the Maria Holder Diabetes Centre In Warrens, St Michael.
Meanwhile, in her key note presentation, vice-president of the International Diabetes Federation, Anne Belton, addressed the issue of the growing number of diabetics around the world and in the Caribbean region.
Belton spoke about the programme that has been initiated by the International Diabetes Federation, where it was recruiting young people to assist in the drive to address the threat presented by the disease.
She also spoke about a programme that has been developed in the schools to assist teachers in understanding diabetes.
She said: “We found that children who have diabetes are often marginalised in the school environment. They are not allowed to go on bus trips and even in some countries they are not allowed to attend schools because they have diabetes.” (NC)