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Take control, be the centre of your diabetes care team


The month of November is recognized around the world as Diabetes Awareness Month and the theme for this year is ‘You Are the Centre of Your Diabetes Care Team’.

This year’s theme is a particularly helpful reminder, as research has long shown that individuals who are well educated about their chronic conditions are empowered, tend to be better controlled and have much better outcomes than those who depend solely on their health care professionals for information and direction.

In fact, a 2017 study conducted by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom has shown that an individual’s health literacy has a stronger correlation to how they manage their health condition than education level, deprivation, age or ethnicity.

Living with diabetes is a daily challenge, but if diabetics take charge of their situation and appoint themselves the most important member of their diabetic care team, they will adopt a more proactive approach to self-care, make informed healthy lifestyle choices and keep to medication regimes. Of course, support from health professionals, family members, friends and possibly community groups is important, but the ultimate responsibility for managing one’s condition lies with the individual.

Next Tuesday, November 14, is World Diabetes Day and according to Ministry of Health statistics, 11.6 per cent of Vincentians between the age of 20 and 79 are living with diabetes. Diabetes is also the third leading cause of death in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Last week, the National Health and Wellness Commission, which was set up to help fight non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, was launched. At that forum, Minister of Health Luke Browne said that 76 per cent of deaths in 2013 here in SVG, in the age group 30-69 (premature deaths) were caused by non-communicable diseases. Deaths by non-communicable diseases are largely preventable and every effort must be made to stem the tide.

Of note at last week’s launch, was the handing over of the National Plan of Action for the Prevention and Control of NCDs in SVG 2017-2015. According to information provided at the launch, the plan outlines the course of action for SVG to combat the NCD epidemic. The plan has not yet been made public, as it has not yet been approved by Cabinet. It is hoped, however, that a significant portion of the budget is allocated for intensive one-on-one patient education and empowerment, which, in the long run, should reduce the resources expended on medication, hospitalization, testing supplies and clinic visits.

Even though awareness about diabetes among Vincentians is growing, the occasion of World Diabetes Day is as good a time as any for the Ministry of Health to conduct a special outreach to diabetics, as regular check-ups at the clinic or doctor’s office will never be sufficient for proper management of diabetes. Each diabetic must immediately throw off any helpless attitude they may have about their condition and take back control.