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(PRESS RELEASE) — The St. Lucia Diabetes and Hypertension Association has planned a number of events during the month of November to highlight the behaviors and practices individuals need to engage in to reduce the escalating levels of diabetes on island.
The Ministry of Health, Massy Stores and other strategic partners are working closely with the association to make a bigger impact this year.
St. Lucia has an estimated 14% prevalence of diabetes among the population. So said, Dr. Shana Cyr-Philbert, the Non-Communicable Disease Focal Point in the Ministry of Health and Wellness. Diabetes is considered to be a lifestyle disease which affects everyone from all walks of life. There are however certain risk factors which predisposes one to develop diabetes.
“We’re looking at being overweight or obese, smoking, living a very salutary lifestyle in terms of not exercising and family history if say your mum or dad was or is diabetic you’re more prone to becoming diabetic. Not necessarily that you have to be but you’re more prone to becoming diabetic.”
Proper nutrition and regular exercise has been proven effective in the prevention and management of diabetes. The theme for this year’s World Diabetes Day is “Diabetes and Families.”
“What we’re looking at is making sure our population is aware of the fact that diabetes is not just the individual’s problem but the whole family’s problem and we’re even going outside of that we’re looking at society as being a big family so that everyone needs to help the other person.”
President of the St. Lucia Diabetes and Hypertension Association, Andrew Felix, challenged the corporate sector particularly insurance companies to do more in the fight against diabetes. His statement was made during a cheque presentation of EC$8,000 made by Massy Stores to support diabetes month.
“Insurance companies all are out there not just in St. Lucia but throughout the region one of the things they have to understand is; wouldn’t they rather have clients coming to them talking about referrals, making payments or would they rather have clients coming to them to make claims. The need to just digest that and understand the importance of that because we are here to reduce diabetes and the escalating tsunami levels of the rising tide of diabetes globally.”
Sariah Best-Joseph, Divisional Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications at Massy Stores said being one of the largest employers on island with over 1200 employees the company understands the impact lifestyle diseases such as diabetes can have on productivity and performance.
“We have understood the importance of ensuring that we not only engage with associations like the diabetes association and support their work but more importantly we want to support our staff who need information who need to become more aware of diseases of how they can better manage their health, wellness, fitness etc.”
Meanwhile the youth are being called upon to get educated about the disease by paying greater attention to the risk factors which can lead to diabetes. Perseus Prospere is the Vice President of the Youth Diabetic Group.
“So the youth who probably wouldn’t even think about it because they don’t have any medical condition but unhealthy living can lead to diabetes. So off course to the youth we’re telling you to live healthy, take part in all our activities this month so that you get educated so you know about diabetes, its symptoms so you can live a long better healthy life.”
The association is hoping for greater corporate support and partnership in the fight to reduce the prevalence of diabetes in St. Lucia.