Saint Lucia’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has urged people with Diabetes to find out as much as they can about the disease and be careful about getting the correct information. According to Dr. Sharon Belmar-George, patient knowledge is power.
“The wrong information can put your life in danger,” Belmar-George warned in a message ahead of World Diabetes Day on November 14 under the theme: ‘Access To Diabetes Care.’
“We observe days like this to remind persons of the importance of this disease. As we struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is particularly important to focus on Diabetes. Did you know that evidence has shown that people with Diabetes and those who are obese have worse outcomes with COVID-19 infections? Did you also know that worldwide, every 5 seconds one person develops Diabetes, every 10 seconds one person dies from Diabetes and every 30 seconds someone loses a limb because of Diabetes?” The CMO stated.
She explained that the raised blood sugar levels which occur in Diabetes contribute significantly to blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, and strokes because the high sugar levels damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.
But Belmar-George also explained that there was good news because medication, lifestyle changes, screening, and treatment for complications can delay or avoid the consequences of the illness.
“After diagnosis, come up with a plan. You will need support from your health care providers, family, and friends. This is a chronic disease, and it may be difficult to manage without a plan and support,” the CMO observed.
“We offer self- management programmes to help individuals with Diabetes manage their diseases better at home. This programme has been shown to give very good results. Do feel free to visit or call your nearest wellness center to get registered for this six-week programme which is offered to clients both virtually and face to face,” Belmar-George revealed.
In addition, she said that in Saint Lucia, drugs for Diabetes are free in public pharmacies while wellness centre nutritionists can help people with Diabetes eat the right foods and manage their condition.
“Since persons with Diabetes may have problems with their feet, podiatrists are also available in the wellness centers. These health professionals teach you to care for your feet to prevent complications,” she said.
“Because Diabetes can significantly affect the eyes, screening for damage to the eyes is very important. Free screening for diabetic retinopathy is available in three of our major health centres. Namely, the Babonneau, Castries and Vieux Fort Wellness Centres,” she added.
The CMO also observed that it is essential for people with Diabetes always to visit their health care provider and monitor their blood sugar using a glucometer.