Cayman blue over diabetes

The Cayman Islands will be looking and feeling blue on Saturday to mark World Diabetes Day.

The Elmslie Memorial United Church in George Town, along with Pedro St James, the Butterfield Bank and Kirk Freeport Stingray Fountain at Bayshore Mall will be lit up in blue as part of a worldwide effort to bathe iconic buildings and monuments in blue.

The International Diabetes Federation has challenged countries to light up in blue to raise awareness of diabetes. World Diabetes Day is represented by the blue circle logo, the global diabetes symbol.

For the past two years, the Cayman Islands Diabetes Association has arranged for the fountain in Heroes Square to be lit up in blue, the colour that represents global efforts to combat the deadly disease.

‘Permission for this year’s lighting is still pending and we have requested that in addition to the Heroes Square, we be permitted to have the lights on the outside of the LA building shine in blue, to show the support of the full government,’ said Sylvia Perry, president of the Cayman Islands Diabetes Association.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the association had still not heard if it would allowed to do so this year.

Cayman has an estimated 3,220 diabetics. The Health Services Authority has 2,255 registered diabetics, accounting for 70 per cent of diagnosed diabetics. The remaining 30 per cent are treated by private doctors, but health experts say many others have not been diagnosed and are not being treated for the disease.

World Diabetes Day is celebrated each year on 14 November and commemorates the birthday of Dr. Frederick Banting, who led the team that discovered insulin in the early 1920s. Prior to their discovery, a diagnosis of diabetes meant certain death.

The International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organisation created World Diabetes Day in 1991 in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat that diabetes poses.

The Federation has asked its member organisations, of which the Cayman Islands Diabetes Association is one, to hold events in their communities to raise awareness and educate citizens about diabetes.

To celebrate the passage of a resolution that made World Diabetes Day an official United Nations Day in 2007, member organisations of the International Diabetes Federation were asked to have landmark building and/or monument lit in blue to ‘bring diabetes to light’.

There are two main types of diabetes – Type 1 which usually affects young people and Type 2 which used to be called adult onset diabetes; however young people and teenagers are being diagnosed.

There is also gestational diabetes which occurs during pregnancy and goes away at the end of the pregnancy.

Events will be held throughout Cayman next week in the run up to World Diabetes Day. These include screenings for diabetes and a poster competition for school children to create posters using the World Diabetes Day theme, Understand Diabetes and Take Control. Child diabetics will also be asked to write essays explaining what having diabetes means to them.

Last year a group of motorcycle riders did a ride to benefit diabetes. Proceeds of this are being used to purchase a Haemoglobin A1C machine which will be donated to the Public Health Department of the Health Services Authority, Ms Perry said.

This year’s activities include a free family fun event at Camana Bay entitled ‘When the Lights Go Blue, Diabetes Awareness is in Focus’ from 4pm to 6.30pm on Saturday, 14 November. It will involve lighting at The Crescent, health screenings, and food and beverages by Luca, Roots and Cayman Imports.

Music will be supplied by the Cayman Islands National Wind Ensemble and Professor Powell, and the minister of health Mark Scotland will be present.

Other upcoming events as part of Diabetes Awareness Month include a five-kilometre walk/run on 28 November from West Bay Public Beach; distribution of ‘Even Superheroes Get Diabetes’ to all schools and doctors offices; distribution of ‘Taking Diabetes to School’ to all primary schools and ongoing diabetes education from the Health Services Authority to school children and adults.