Health Ministry to Focus on Reducing Cases of Diabetes and other CNCDs

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Minister of Health and Social Development, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis delivered the keynote address at the Graduation Exercises of Diabetics Wellness Programme Tuesday night at the Grants Town Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Wellington Street. Dr. Minnis applauded the graduates for participating in the programme and remaining with it to its completion. He encouraged them to continue to put their new-found knowledge to good use for their own benefit and that of their respective families. The programme was held over a three-month period and was sponsored by the Adventist Health Professionals Association of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in partnership with the Diabetic Research Institute. (Photo/Patrick Hanna)

By: Matt Maura

NASSAU, Bahamas –
The reversal of the increasing prevalence of chronic, non-communicable diseases (CNCDs) such as diabetes in particular, as well as obesity, coronary heart disease, strokes and cancers in The Bahamas will be a major focus of his ministry, Minister of Health and Social Development, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis said this week.

Addressing the Diabetic Wellness Programme’s graduation exercise at the Grants Town Seventh Day Adventist Church Tuesday, Dr. Minnis said an even greater emphasis is being placed on reducing the number of persons with diabetes, a disease that is recognized worldwide as a chronic, debilitating and costly disease associated with severe complications.

The Health Minister pointed to recent statistics which show that diabetes is not only negatively impacting Bahamian adults, but is also being diagnosed on a more frequent basis in children and adolescents. He said Type II Diabetes, originally considered to be a problem exclusively for adults – particularly those 40 years old and over – is now being diagnosed in children.

This, he added, is due in large part to a growing number of overweight children and adolescents as a result of poor eating habits, unhealthy lifestyles and a lack of exercise.

“In The Bahamas, it is estimated that approximately 10 per cent of our population is living with diabetes with the prevalence being higher in females than males,” Dr. Minnis said.

“Further, diabetes accounts for approximately 5-10 per cent of our nation’s health budget and is among the leading cause of hospitalization and death of all age groups affected.”

Last year, World Diabetes Day focused on children and adolescents thereby raising awareness of the problem and the need for action to prevent the death of children from diabetes.

“Early diagnosis and education, followed by appropriate care and support geared towards controlling the disease, are crucial in reducing complications and saving lives,” Dr. Minnis added.

Dr. Minnis said officials at the Ministry of Health and Social Development will continue to work toward improving the well-being of persons living with diabetes by establishing or partnering with programmes that create awareness and those that prevent, treat and manage diabetes.

“Such programmes include diabetic, podiatry and ophthalmology clinics at the Princess Margaret Hospital, weekly diabetic clinics, weekly diabetic nutrition education sessions and home visits through the four, polyclinics in New Providence,” he said.

“Through our Healthy Lifestyles Initiatives, we are actively promoting those activities that can help to reduce the risk factors associated with chronic, non-communicable diseases,” Dr. Minnis added.

Citing figures from the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Minnis said research shows that more than 230 million persons worldwide are living with diabetes. That number is projected to exceed more than 333 million persons by the year 2025, with 80 per cent of the increase occurring in low and middle income countries.

He said research further shows that there is a correlation between unhealthy lifestyles, poor diets, inadequate levels of exercise and the growth of Type II Diabetes, thereby creating the need for national focus on healthy lifestyles in an effort to help prevent the onset of diabetes.

Officials at the Ministry of Health and Social Development, Dr. Minnis said, will continue to work hand-in-hand with programmes such as the Diabetes Wellness Programme which was sponsored by the Adventist Health Professionals Association of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, in conjunction with the Diabetic Research Institute.

“The fact that the Adventist Health Professionals Association partnered with the Diabetic Research Institute to implement the programme, indicates the commitment to offer a programme that is factually sound and one that will achieve the intended results,” he added.

Dr. Minnis applauded the Bahamas Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists Churches in The Bahamas for implementing the Awareness Programme and encouraged other organizations and church groups to follow suit “as we unite in the fight against diabetes.”

“We are truly appreciative of the contributions of the non-governmental organizations and stakeholders such as the Bahamas Diabetic Association, the Diabetic Research Institute, the Bahamas Heart Association, the Adventist Health Professionals Association of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and all diabetic advocates and stakeholders that are partners in the fight against diabetes because my ministry cannot do it alone,” Dr. Minnis said.

“Reversing the increasing trends we are seeing with regards to diabetes and its negative impact on families, the delivery of healthcare in The Bahamas and on the economy of The Bahamas, is going to take all of our participation,” he added.