PRESS RELEASE – The President of Saint Lucia Diabetes and Hypertension Association, George Eugene lamented the frightening situation we face as it relates to the growing number of diabetic cases on the islands, and the limited availability of medical or other treatment.
He expressed these concerns at an event held by the International American University College of Medicine (IAU) in collaboration with St. Jude Hospital.
Mr Eugene described the situation as being “out of control at this moment”
“We have too many amputations. One is too many…so to have 130 a year is absolutely ridiculous. We can’t have 95 persons waiting for dialysis,” Eugene lamented, adding that he gets very passionate when talking about the issue.
He said we need to target the preschoolers in order to tackle the problem head on and avoid the young people from becoming diabetic when it could be prevented with early education.
“I find the problem is being neglected. We need to deal with the problem now,” Eugene said.
He lamented that that there is a wealth of knowledge in the public domain about diabetes, but it is not taken seriously. He called on the public to learn as much about the disease as possible so as to avoid becoming one of its victims.
Eugene said “if the problem is not taken care of now, our health bill which is already high will worsen.;
We will be overburdened with our health bill. It will strangle us…”
He continued “it is predicted that in the next 15 years, there will be 100 million people with diabetic in the world” and that “it is laziness on our part that is preventing us from doing the things that are necessary to deal with the dire situation.
Senator Debbra Tobbiere, in her address, recounted her personal experience with diabetes after being diagnosed with the disease by her doctor. She said that at the first stage she was living in denial, but after she went all out to change her lifestyle her health conditions improved significantly, as did her mindset..
“I lost 35 pounds in three and a half months,” she said.
She added: “We consume a lot of things that we should not consume…We consume a lot of starchy foods. What we consider to be treats are not good for our health.”
Assistant Medical Director at Saint Jude Hospital, Dr. Francois also lamented the seriousness of the problem in Saint Lucia. “At Saint Jude we are award of the ravages of diabetes. We see the severity of its complications. We see its cost…and the toll it takes on the quality of people’s lives.”
He emphasized the importance of lifestyle changes to stem the “tide of the diabetes” on our island.
“We need to pay attention to out diet. We need to avoid foods that are high in caloric content and we need to exercise regularly..,” he said.
He called on the students of IAUSOM to read as much as they can about the diseases so they can offer good care to patients.
At the event there was also an open forum, where people had their blood pressure and sugar levels measured.
Dr. Patrick Gannon, The Chief Academic Officer of IAU, said “the reason why the school became involved with such an important day is because it is committed to improving lives and healthcare in Saint Lucia”, adding that we planto continue our efforts in partnership with other organizations, in both the public and private sector”.
“We are here today because we care about you and your health…We, the students, doctors and clinical partners will help you fight this disease,” he said.
According to Gannon, diabetes is overly common in St. Lucia and requires a concerted effort on the part of every citizen in order to deal with it.
“There is no cure for diabetes but there are treatments and strategies to control it, such as education and screening, exercise, glucose test, insulin therapy, diet and the recognition of its symptoms,” he said.
Gannon said Saint Lucians are predisposed to diabetes mostly due to their African heritage, diet and lifestyle, but it’s largely preventable or treatable if take it seriously and get it right; WE CAN DO IT.