Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George, as he spoke at the World Health Day Extravaganza.

Health Ministry concerned about diabetes epidemic


The diabetes epidemic in Barbados is linked to rising levels of obesity, which is of concern to the Ministry of Health.
Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George, acknowledged the above yesterday as he spoke to The Barbados Advocate ahead of the start of the World Health Day Extravaganza, hosted by the Lions Club of Bridgetown, in association with the Barbados Council for the Disabled, at the Council’s headquarters  at Harambee House, The Garrison, St. Michael.
Noting that the World Health Day global theme this year is “Beat Diabetes”, Dr. George however suggested that the statistics suggest that it is indeed a challenge.
“It is estimated that there are over 420 million persons with diabetes worldwide. That makes it one in every 11 persons. But the situation in Barbados is such that it is a public health concern, wherein 18.7% of the population over the age of 25 is diabetic; and if you look at a smaller population of persons over the age of 65, close to half of those individuals will have diabetes,” Dr. George remarked.
“The worrisome trend in Barbados is that we strongly believe that the diabetes epidemic is linked to rising levels of obesity in Barbados. That has become a very serious problem to the Ministry of Health, because it’s not only associated with diabetes, but overweight is associated with an increased risk for hypertension and an increased risk for muscular skeletal problems and joint disease,” he pointed out.
The Acting CMO however noted that the Ministry has been trying some new approaches to try to beat the epidemic.
“We have been trying some novel things in the Ministry of Health. We are using multiple approaches and this includes scaling up programmes within primary care, so we now have a Non-communicable Disease Clinic at the Winston Scott Clinic. We are doing some novel, new ideas at the David Thompson Social and Health Complex, wherein we are doing a model called the Chronic Care Model, which is a very integrated type…of treatment involving the community and the patient. So we are trying different interventions,” Dr. George acknowledged.
To bring greater awareness to the issue, the Ministry of Health teamed up with the National Task Force on Physical Activity and Exercise yesterday afternoon to celebrate World Health Day with a free fitness event in Independence Square, Bridgetown, under the theme “Get Moving – Beat Diabetes”. 
However, Dr. George stressed the need for Barbadians to integrate basic preventative measures in their daily routine such as eating healthy, getting adequate exercise and abstaining from the use of alcohol and tobacco, since, one-off ventures will hardly work in combating the diabetes epidemic.

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