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‘All Things Diabetes’ Health Fair Promotes Healthy Living

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Saint Lucians are being reminded to be mindful of the risk factors associated with diabetes and take the necessary steps to mitigate the effects of the widespread non-communicable disease (NCD).

The renewed call came during the hosting of an ‘All Things Diabetes’ Health Fair held on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, at Constitution Park in Castries, which was a collaborative effort by the TaiwanICDF, Cathay General Hospital, Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs, and St. Lucia Diabetes and Hypertension Association (SLDHA).

Fourteen participating companies and agencies showcased a wide array of food and other health-related items and information.

Patrons visiting the booths benefited from free screenings, cooking demonstrations and free samples, and a chance to win prizes by answering simple questions related to diabetes.

The theme for this year’s World Diabetes Day, which was observed on November 14, is “Know Your Risk, Know Your Response”, and organizers are hoping that current investments and partnerships can lead to a better quality of life for citizens.

In his brief remarks, Mr. Edison Hsu, First Secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan), expressed gratitude and support to the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs, for hosting the event which sought to raise awareness about diabetes among the citizenry.

Through these collaborative efforts, he said Saint Lucia and Taiwan can make life easier for citizens by promoting good health. 

“As we all recognize that NCDs (non-communicable diseases) have endangered Saint Lucia’s livelihoods and health, it is essential to address this issue with a holistic approach,” Hsu said.

“International cooperation is much more needed than ever at this critical juncture. Taiwan and Saint Lucia have forged a strong partnership in the healthcare and medical sector.”

A public health project aimed at enhancing Saint Lucia’s healthcare system was jointly implemented earlier this year by the Taiwanese Embassy, Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM), and Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs.

The four-year project was in response to the challenges posed by NCDs, and includes the training of local policy level officials and seed instructors in Taiwan.

“We are moving forward in formulating NCDs strategies, policies, as well as education materials,” Hsu said.

“Our mission is far from over, but the collaboration between Taiwan and Saint Lucia guide us to the right path.”Hon. Moses Jn. Baptiste, Minister for Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs, cited figures from the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) which indicate that approximately 537 million people worldwide have diabetes.

“Unfortunately, only half of those persons are aware that they are diabetic, and, sadly, this figure is projected to rise as risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity continue to rise,” Hon. Jn. Baptiste said.

Hon. Jn. Baptiste added that: “This year’s theme (for Diabetes Month) is a call to action to all Saint Lucians to know the risks of diabetes. Knowing is the first step to taking appropriate action. If you know your risk, appropriate education allows for early prevention through lifestyle changes, early diagnosis, and, of course, early treatment.”

Also speaking at the formal opening of the health fair was Dr. Kedhma Dorh, President of the St. Lucia Diabetes and Hypertension Association (SLDHA), who said the event symbolized the power of partnerships and the shared commitment to fostering health and well-being among the population.

“Our collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Taiwan Technical Mission basically exemplifies the spirit of international cooperation in addressing this pressing health issue called diabetes,” said Dr. Dorh.

“It is a global challenge, and, through initiatives like these, we are able to address it. Further, this is a testament to the synergy that can be achieved when organizations and nations come together for a common cause.”

Diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by higher than normal levels of blood glucose or blood sugar.

As the condition progresses, damage to organs such as the heart, kidney, nerves and blood vessels occur.

These complications affect the quality of life of persons living with diabetes and can also lead to death.

An estimated 90% of people who have diabetes have Type II Diabetes, the most common type. The good news is that Type II Diabetes is preventable and can be controlled with a healthy lifestyle and adequate medical treatment.

Healthy lifestyle changes include commitment to such things as keeping physically active, eating a healthy diet, avoid smoking, and losing weight if you’re overweight.

SOURCE: Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan)

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