– as efforts made to raise awareness about diabetes
Several children were found to have high blood sugar levels, after they were tested as part
of a screening activity to observe World Diabetes Day yesterday, raising concerns that the local diabetic population might be growing.
A study conducted a few years ago which was unveiled by the local Ministry of Health, revealed that persons living with diabetes have a greater than 80 per cent chance of dying prematurely. It was also pointed out that diabetes is a contributing factor to other illnesses such as heart diseases, hypertension, stroke, eye complications, kidney diseases and erectile dysfunction, among others.
In fact, based on information from the Health Ministry, diabetes is regarded as one of the leading causes of death in Guyana and has been known to change places with cancer from year to year. It also accounts for an average of about 425 deaths each year, or about six deaths per every 10,000 persons in Guyana.
For instance in 2008, diabetes ranked as the leading cause of death in Region Nine, number two in Region Five, number three in Regions Three and Six, number four in Regions Four and Seven, number five in Regions Two and 10 and number seven in Region One.
Based on statistics from the Health Ministry, diabetes affect people of all ages. It is also a disease that becomes more prevalent with the aging process. In fact, in the 15 to 44 age group in Guyana, diabetes ranks as the number nine most prevalent cause of illness, but in the age group above 45 years–old, diabetes ranks as number two.
And it was to amplify the state of diabetes that yesterday’s activity was conducted. It was spearheaded by the Georgetown Stabroek Lion’s Club and was venued at the Brickdam, Georgetown, St Stanislaus College.
According to President of the Lion’s Club, Odessa DeBarros, the observance was understandably done in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission.
Close to $1.5 million was expended to undertake the activity which saw scores of students and teachers being exposed to not only blood sugar tests, but also blood pressure and Body Mass Index (BMI) tests. The total number of blood sugar tests conducted was 479, while 268 blood pressure tests were done. It was during this segment of yesterday’s activity that health officials were able to test several students and discovered that they had high blood sugar levels.
And there was much to learn about diabetes, particularly its association to high blood sugar levels, through presentations delivered to the entire school population and some parents as well. The primary presenter yesterday was Dr. Ahilryia Permaul of the Woodlands Hospital.
It is expected that the students who were tested and found to have high blood sugar levels will be afforded follow up medical care.
High blood sugar, medically termed hyperglycaemia, occurs when the body is unable to remove glucose (sugar) from the blood and transform it into energy. This state of affairs, the gathering being informed yesterday was told, more often than not occurs in persons with diabetes.
The symptoms of the condition can develop over several days or weeks and can range from increased thirst, dry mouth, frequent urination, tiredness and repeated infections. Advanced symptoms can include weight loss and blurred vision.
The activity yesterday also attracted the medical expertise of nurses Naajiyah Azeez from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and Onika Mahabir from the Ministry of Health.
Supporting the Lion’s President yesterday too were: Lion Roxanne Luckie, Lion Jeemima Burke, Lion Haroon Hallim and Lion Naresh Jairam.
The diabetes observance at the city school yesterday was in fact the first of its kind spearheaded by the Lions Club, and according to DeBarros, calls have already been made by school officials for the annual event to be sustained.
The observance of World Diabetes Day is on November 14 annually in order to raise global awareness of the disease. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the intent is to examine the escalating rates of the disease around the world and how to prevent the illness in most cases. The theme for the observance this year is “Healthy Living and Diabetes.”
The focus on diabetes was started by the International Diabetes Federation and WHO to mark the birth anniversary of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, was instrumental in the discovery of insulin in 1922, a life-saving treatment for diabetic patients.
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