The Ministry of Health on Monday announced plans to establish a National Diabetes Coordinating Centre in Saint Lucia within the next 12 months.
The ministry will be assisted by W Science a Switzerland-based private company founded by St. Lucia’s representative to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Dr. Walid Juffali.
This project is the first stage of a wider initiative which is aimed at creating a Diabetes Research Centre on the island, something that Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony had announced months ago.
Addressing the media at a press conference on Monday was Health and Human Services Minister, Alvina Reynolds, who said a team from W Science is currently here to discuss the implementation of this project.
Reynolds said in addition to setting up the centre, a nationwide diabetes screening programme will be implemented, along with an educational awareness-raising campaign.
A world-class training programme to create a St. Lucian team of specialist diabetes nurses and a national registry of people with diabetes will also be implemented through this project.
“We are grateful to W Science, who will coordinate and finance these initial initiatives on a purely philanthropic basis. Today’s announcement follows more than a year of in-depth feasibility studies to identify an impactful response response to the diabetes situation in Saint Lucia,” Reynolds said.
The minister explained that the research team was led by Professor Phillippe Halban, a global authority on diabetes research with more than 40 years of experience in the field.
“Today’s announcement marks a real step change in how this country approaches diabetes education, prevention, management and research. Establishing sustainable medical infrastructure will enable St. Lucia not only to address the management of the disease here, but also to position our country to ultimately become a hub for diabetes care and research, attracting investment and harnessing expertise in this field from across the Caribbean region.”
In 2014, there were over 10,200 people with diabetes in St. Lucia. Diabetes is an endemic public health issue and one of the leading causes of early death here.