Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Stemming the diabetes epidemic

Published:Thursday | April 28, 2016 | 12:00 AM


The number of people suffering from diabetes is skyrocketing all over Jamaica.

Diabetes, once considered the 'sickness of the wealthy', is increasingly, the 'affliction of the poor'. Nutrition deficit must be blamed for its onset. The increasing consumption of sugary drinks, red meat and the lack of frequent physical exercise has taken a toll on the health and well-being of large numbers of people who have little or no knowledge of the disease.

The vast number of sufferers are female vendors in the inner cities of Kingston and St Andrew. Many of these small-business people have been nursing 'sore feet' over extended periods without success and may be candidates for amputation.

The Ministry of Health may be somewhat slow in updating and publishing the statistics, yet the World Health Organization's report published in April 2016 acknowledged that the percentage of diabetic sufferers has nearly doubled from 1980 to 2014.

It increased from 4.7 per cent to 8.5 per cent.

In the year 2014, it is estimated that 422 million adults were diagnosed with the disease. This sickness contributes to 212 million deaths worldwide, and it is the leading cause of death in the United States of America.

Health Minister Dr Chris Tufton, notwithstanding the many challenges facing him in health care, must take leadership of the public health sector in launching campaigns to raise awareness. Simultaneously, immediate steps must be taken to collaborate with the Ministry of Education to promote healthy lifestyles.

The public education campaign must encourage consumers to

eat more fruits and vegetables. The value of regular exercise

for fitness should not be underestimated. The outcome will be a reduction in governmental expenditure over the long term.

Glen George Wilson