Local entertainers who are organizing a concert for June to raise funds for the Barbados Diabetes Foundation (BDF), are urging Barbadians to take the disease seriously.
In fact, entertainment veteran William “Smokey” Burke is calling on Government, which foots most of the bill for diabetic care, to make it mandatory for soft drink manufacturers to cut down on the amount of sugar they are putting in the beverages.
“Sweet drinks are probably the biggest problem that we are facing regarding the diabetes fight,” he said. “I am saying that Government pays for the care of the majority of people that are diabetic. In order to reduce this large financial bill that they have, they should pass a law that in the next five years, all the sweet drinks manufacturers should gradually reduce the amount of sugar in the sweet drinks.”
Burke made this suggestion as entertainers, in conjunction with the BDF, launched Sweetness – The Premiere Showcase of Barbados’ Finest Performers this morning at the BDF’s Diabetes Centre, Warrens, St Michael.
Scheduled to be held on June 19 at the Plantation Garden Theatre, Sweetness celebrates the golden jubilee of Barbados’ Independence. Proceeds will go to support projects and programmes of the BDF.
According to the 2013 Health of the Nation study, diabetes affects one in five Barbadians. At least 40 per cent of the population is also pre-diabetic. From amputations to blindness to kidney disease to infertility, the effects of diabetes are wreaking havoc on the Barbadian population.
Top Barbadian performers will be coming together to lend their time and talent to raise awareness about diabetes and its impact and what can be done to mitigate the disease that affects many artistes themselves.
The show will be 100 per cent Bajan featuring mixed genres of soca, calypso, jazz, gospel, spouge and more.
According to Peter Adonijah Alleyne, there was a need for Barbadians to take diabetes seriously as statistics have shown that it could affect even the youngest persons.
Adonijah, who was diagnosed with the condition in 2007, said he was happy to be a part of the project which would not only promote a heightened awareness of the disease but also raise funds to fight it.
“You need to take it seriously. Look out for it from early and do what you can to avoid it,” he said.
Adrian Boo Husbands, who almost lost a foot and his eyesight due to diabetes, said that he has benefitted from the professional and effective services of the BDF’s Diabetes Centre which was costly to keep running.
On that note, he called on Barbadians to support the concert, which he described as an exceptional showcase of talent from which the proceeds will go towards an exceptional cause.
“If I had to choose employees to work in my company, diabetes would be one because it don’t stop working. It works to destroy and anytime you turn an eye to it, you turn away from it, it destroys even more,” Husbands said.
Terencia TC Coward and Anderson Blood Armstrong, neither of whom is diabetic, who were also present at the launch and endorsed the sentiments of their colleagues.
Dr Dianne Brathwaite who gave an overview of the services offered at the Diabetes Centre, stressed that while just over 18 per cent of the adult population in Barbados had diabetes, management of the disease started with understanding it.
She said the cornerstone of the BDF was about educating patients through teaching them how to be proactive in managing their health.
She said statistics from the Health of the Nation study conducted late last year showed that 67 per cent of Barbadian women and 37 per cent of adult men were physically inactive.
“We do have a crisis. We have an epidemic and that’s what diabetes and pre-diabetes are to Barbados,” Dr Brathwaite said.
The Diabetes Centre is dedicated exclusively to the management of diabetes in Barbados. It offers a multidisciplinary approach to diabetes care, which is a concept new to Barbados. (AH)