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Cayman Islands Health Minister’s World Diabetes Day (14) Message

Minister for Health, Environment, Culture and Housing
Hon. Dwayne Seymour, JP, MLA
World Diabetes Day 2017

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Cayman Islands mark World Diabetes Day on Tuesday, 14 November.

As Minister for Health, I fully support this annual date on our calendar. I also urge everyone to listen and pay attention to the information received from your healthcare professionals on the subject of diabetes and ways in which this serious illness can be prevented and controlled.

Diabetes is a widespread problem in the Caribbean, including here in the Cayman Islands, where the condition is often referred to as “sugar”. Untreated, it can cause serious complications such as blindness, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure leading to dialysis, and lower-limb amputation.

This year’s theme, “Women and diabetes – Our right to a healthy future”, was chosen by the International Diabetes Federation. While diabetes is widespread amongst men in our community, I am pleased to have the spotlight shone on women for this particular occasion.

Globally, diabetes is the ninth leading cause of death in women, causing 2.1 million deaths each year. One in 10 women is living with diabetes.

Women with diabetes have more difficulty conceiving and may have poor pregnancy outcomes. Without pre-conception planning, type 1 and type 2 diabetes can result in a significantly higher risk of maternal and child mortality and morbidity.

One in seven births is affected by gestational diabetes (GDM), a severe and neglected threat to maternal and child health. Many women with gestational diabetes experience pregnancy related complications including high blood pressure, large birth-weight babies and obstructed labour. A significant number of women with GDM also go on to develop type 2 diabetes, resulting in further healthcare complications and costs.
In light of this knowledge, all residents, women and men, are encouraged to be proactive and take advantage of the many health checks that are offered on the islands through health fairs and other community related activities.
I am pleased to say there will be free health screenings on Tuesday, 14 November between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the atrium of the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town.

The event is a partnership between the Health Services Authority and the Lions Club of Tropical Gardens, and we encourage all women and girls, as well as men and boys, to take advantage of this opportunity.

Later on the same day, there is a public education session on the topic of women and diabetes in the Hibiscus Conference Room at the hospital, from 5.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. The scheduled speakers are consultant obstetrician, Dr. Gillian Evans-Belfonte, and pharmacist/diabetes educator, Winsome Jefferson.

Of course, if this special day of events is not convenient, you can make an appointment with your physician at any time to be screened for diabetes. I would certainly recommend that anyone who has a family history of “sugar” should make a point of being screened.

Each of us can also take steps to avoid developing diabetes, or to help control it if we already have the condition. Simple measures such as eating a healthy and balanced diet, as well as taking regular exercise, can make a big difference. It is also important to avoid tobacco products, alcohol and illegal drugs.

In years gone by, children in the Cayman Islands had very active lifestyles, but these days it is all too common to see them occupied on their phones, tablets or computer games. I urge parents to ensure their sons and daughters incorporate physical activities into their play times, and take part in sports in their teenage years.

So while we focus on “sugar” for World Diabetes Day, let us remember that this is a condition we must be aware of all year round. Let’s focus on education, treatment and care for all.



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