World Health Day focuses on beating diabetes

To help tackle preventable diseases like diabetes, which this year is the focus of the annual World Health Day, Cayman’s Department of Health will soon begin airing regular public service announcements on radio and TV, Premier Alden McLaughlin said.

WorldHealthDayposter-(Read-Only)In a message to mark World Health Day, April 7, the premier said the announcements would address preventable diseases, conditions and situations that can cause ill health.

This year, the World Health Organization released its first “Global report on diabetes,” highlighting the need to step up prevention and treatment of the disease to “halt the rise” and beat diabetes.

According to WHO, 422 million adults are living with diabetes today worldwide, almost quadruple the number of people living with the disease in 1980. WHO attributes this dramatic rise in diabetes cases to the number of people who are overweight or obese.

In his World Health Day message, Mr. McLaughlin, who is also health minister, said that many people in the Cayman Islands are “unfortunately familiar” with the topic of diabetes as more and more people in the jurisdiction have been diagnosed with the disease. According to the International Diabetes Federation there were 5,200 cases of diabetes in the Cayman Islands in 2015.

The federation estimates the national prevalence of diabetes among adults in the Cayman Islands to be 13.4 percent. That is slightly higher than the average national prevalence, 12.9 percent, in North America and the Caribbean. More than 44 million people in North America and the Caribbean have diabetes, according to the federation.

According to WHO, diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths in 2012, and the organization projects that diabetes will become the world’s 7th leading cause of death by 2030.

“As many of you know, diabetes is a lifestyle disease; in some cases it is preventable,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “Simple lifestyle changes have been shown to be effective in preventing or reducing the risk of diabetes or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes.”

He noted that maintaining a normal body weight, engaging in regular physical activity and eating a healthy and balanced diet are ways of preventing and reducing the risk of diabetes.

“Mindful of this fact, we all have a personal responsibility to play a part in halting the rise of the diabetic epidemic,” the premier said.

He said he is proud of the “on-the-ground, proactive and preventative measures” put in place throughout the Islands by the Public Health Department, the Health Services Authority, the Cayman Islands Diabetes Association and the Cayman Islands Diabetes Charitable Trust.

“Through educational classes, various ongoing on-site screenings, counselling and awareness sharing activities, help is offered to people to determine their level of risk for diabetes and in tackling the disease,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

He added, “On this World Health Day 2016, I encourage you to join in the global fight against diabetes by learning how each of you can personally practice healthy eating and active living as a means of preventing the onset of diabetes.

“For those who are diabetic – stand strong in your fight to manage your diabetes. These measures will help us to help you in ensuring the health and wellness of the people in the beloved Cayman Islands.”