EDITORIAL: Diabetes must be controlled
THE INCIDENCE OF DIABETES is skyrocketing worldwide and that story holds true in Barbados. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared this disease the non-infectious epidemic of the 21st century.
Worldwide, the number of people suffering with diabetes is projected to rise from about 400 million today to 592 million by 2035. The 2014 figures of 30 500 cases in this country present a grim reality, especially given that many adults with the illness were undetected.
This is dire news for a country grappling with spiralling health care costs given that for those above the age of 65, it is estimated that one in two people is diabetic. With Barbados’ growing ageing population, this will present some new challenges. The care of an increasing number of diabetics will fall to the state not only through the public health system, but because of the likely complications some people will encounter that will necessitate additional medical and financial considerations.
The predictions by the WHO and local experts that the situation will become even more worrisome for developing nations such as Barbados, as they try to combat diabetes before the problem is arrested, only complicates things if we are not proactive in fighting this ailment.
There are some clear prescriptions for better health, especially in controlling this particular disease. For example, more exercise rather than a sedate lifestyle; and healthy eating rather than the consumption of the instant foods laced with too much of all the wrong stuff. Yet, while the solution seems simple, it is a difficult routine for many if only because of the push-pull impact in society. The lure by sleek appeals from businesses to indulge constantly in too much of the wrong dietary habits has trapped a large segment of the population.
Businesses selling and promoting foods likely to make the diabetes problem worse have a moral obligation to consider their social responsibility even as they look at their bottom line. A nation with an ever increasing number of diabetics will eventually record a negative impact in most aspects of life. The evidence points to many serious ailments which develop because of the onset of diabetes.
This is why the outstanding efforts of the various health agencies and the Diabetes Association of Barbados to raise awareness through public education must be ramped up. From our schools, mobile canteens, fast food outlets to the fine dining establishments, and certainly within every home, we need to revisit what is on the menu. Lifestyle changes are an absolute necessity.
Barbados cannot fail to get in front of where diabetes is going, otherwise we will be faced with horrendous challenges. We have the medical research information but more must be done since we must not be let up in our response to curtail unnecessary suffering and even prevent avoidable deaths.
This is not a battle Barbados can afford to lose. We must act together; we cannot linger.