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Launch an assault on diabetes - Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

THE EDITOR: Due to the risks of the novel coronavirus, which causes covid19, it has become more important than ever to take care of yourself. Indeed, people with diabetes are among the groups at a higher risk for complications from covid19, notes the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The good news is that proper blood sugar management can help reduce those risks. President of the Diabetes Association of TT, Andrew Dhanoo, said he is grateful that the Ministry of Health gave them the opportunity to vaccinate some of their members.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh issued a warning several years ago that the growing impact of non-communicable diseases on the economy and society is expected to intensify as the population grows older.

Diabetes is an example of one of those diseases. It is a difficult disease and it is attacking an increasing number of adults. Currently, there are over 200,000 people living with diabetes and a further ten per cent are in a pre-diabetic stage. Even more frightening is the fact that it's affecting TT's teenagers and children.

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure among adults. It causes nerve damage and when that is coupled with diabetes-related circulation problems this, unfortunately, often leads to the loss of a leg or foot. Diabetes significantly increases your risk of developing heart disease and dying from covid19.

The good news is diabetes can be stopped in its tracks. It's time to launch a campaign that focuses our resources on significantly reducing and eventually defeating diabetes in this country.

We also must learn to make better food choices and control our cravings as some people are digging their graves with their teeth. About nine out of ten cases could be avoided by simply making the sacrifice of keeping your weight under control and exercising twice a week.

Diabetes is a public health crisis. It may have lacked the immediate attention that diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV attracted but it is a bigger killer globally than both diseases combined, especially now with the presence of covid19.

Without aggressive and urgent action, the number of diabetes cases could grow astronomically in the next 25 years. The human cost is enormous, and the economic burden threatens to crush health systems in this country and around the world.

If we are serious about creating real change, we have to focus more of our collective resources, efforts, and imagination on the social factors and cultural determinants that place us at high risk in the first place. It's time to launch an assault on diabetes in TT before things get worse - and to prepare for future pandemics.


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