February 20, 2024

Cayman Minister for Health Hon. Sabrina Turner has issued a message on today’s observance of World Diabetes Day, celebrated annually on 14 November

Hon. Sabrina Turner

World Diabetes Day Message


Minister for Health & Wellness Hon. Sabrina Turner

Sunday, 14 November

On this World Diabetes Day, observed annually on November 14th, we join with people in every country around the world to recognise the global effects of one of the most prevalent noncommunicable diseases on the planet.

Diabetes is no respecter of wealth, age, gender, education, or status. More than 537 million people worldwide have diabetes.

And this number keeps growing, quadrupling since 1980 and expected to rise to 643 million by 2030. 

Additionally, 541 million adults around the globe have impaired glucose tolerance, putting them at risk for type 2 diabetes. 

And diabetes is responsible for 6.7million deaths globally in 2021, which equates to one diabetes-related death every five seconds. 

Locally, here in the Cayman Islands, the number of people living with diabetes grew by 11.5% between 2016 and 2018. By 2019, diseases of the endocrine system – of which diabetes is one, were the fourth leading cause of death in our Islands.

But there is good news. We have greater knowledge than ever before about how to prevent and treat diabetes.

Globally, the theme for this year’s World Diabetes Day is “Access to Diabetes Care – If Not Now, When?” aimed at providing better availability of diabetic treatment for all people living with the disease.

Locally, we have a strong will in this Government to ensure that our people have access to both the healthcare services, treatment, and medication that they need to survive, but also to those which will positively impact and enhance their lives in a holistic way.

There are already local programmes in place to help diabetics live full and healthy lives.

The Health Services Authority has a Diabetes Education Programme which started in 2013 and is accessed by all registered diabetic patients through the HSA. Patients in the programme are empowered through education including lifestyle modification, footcare, prevention of complications and adherence to medications which result in improved outcomes.

Approximately 3,000 patients have been positively impacted from the onset of the programme, which is offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2pm to 5 pm. 

However, we are currently facing a very big challenge for people with diabetes everywhere- including here at home in Cayman. 

That of the COVID-19 pandemic.

People with diabetes are more vulnerable to being hospitalized with severe manifestations of the virus. 

Data from NHS England shows that for COVID-19 patients who become hospitalised, the risk of dying is higher for people living with diabetes than people without the condition.

People with diabetes should take strong precautions to avoid contracting Sars-Cov-2 – the virus which causes COVID-19. 

When people with diabetes develop a viral infection, it can be harder to treat due to fluctuations in blood glucose levels, a compromised immune system, and the presence of any diabetes complications.

The recommendations that are being widely issued to the public are doubly important for people living with diabetes and anyone in close contact with them – such as family members and caregivers.

For example, practicing good hand hygiene, social distancing, wearing a mask, avoiding large gatherings as well as unnecessary outings or travel, and above all, getting fully vaccinated.

If you have diabetes and are concerned about COVID -19, please prepare in case you get ill. Make sure you have all relevant contact details on hand in case you need them. Pay extra attention to your glucose control. Regular monitoring can help avoid complications.

If you do show flu-like symptoms (raised temperature, cough, difficulty breathing), it is important to consult a healthcare professional right away. 

Beyond the threat of COVID-19, people with diabetes are advised to always follow healthy nutrition practices. This is an essential component of diabetes management. 

It is very important for people with diabetes to eat a varied and balanced diet to keep their blood glucose levels stable and enhance their immune system. 

Dangerously, one in two adults with type 2 diabetes is unaware of their condition. Half of all adults with type 2 diabetes are undiagnosed. 

So, I urge you, if you have a family history of diabetes or think you may be diabetic, please get tested. It is the first step in taking control of your health and ensuring that you can live a long and health life despite being affected by the disease.

And remember, with Type 2 diabetes, it is a preventable and controllable disease. Following a healthy diet, with regular physical activity and consistent health checks, can help you to avoid – and in some cases even reverse – the onset of the disease.

I urge you all to take every action you can to stay safe, stay informed and stay healthy.

Wishing you happiness and good health today and always.

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