The situation in St. Lucia is critical as government and non-government agencies are busy trying to find strategies to cope with a disease which ranks as the 3rd leading cause of death. Moreover, it reaps severe financial and social havoc on many families and the nation at large.
On Monday November 14, St.Lucia joined the rest of the world in the annual observance of World Diabetes Day (WDD). The Ministry of Health and Wellness, St.Lucia Diabetes and Hypertension Association and the St. Lucia Blind Welfare Association occupied some sections of the Sir Stanislaus James Building on the Waterfront to offer services to the public in eye, diabetes and hypertension screening. Nurse Claudius Desir, a Public Health Nursing Supervisor was on hand to explain what was happening.
“We are not diagnosing anybody for hypertension or diabetes. We are actually conducting screening and based on your results we refer you either to your doctor or your local wellness centre. But we also have the Nutrition Officers doing nutritional counselling for persons we have found with high readings today.”
There is a co-relation between diabetes and eye health which is the reason this year’s theme is “eyes on diabetes”. Denise Godin,the Eye Health Officer of the St.Lucia Blind Welfare Association says diabetic retinopathy is of great concern to the SLBWA.
“Anybody living with diabetes is at risk of developing ‘Diabetic Retinopathy’ which is one of the leading eye conditions in the Caribbean, so persons who have diabetes should be very much aware and very sensitive that they try to control their diabetes to prevent any danger of it affecting their eyes. If your circulation is affected, then your eyes can be affected.”
Nurse Alma Dolor,Public Health Nursing Supervisor for Region 7 says the SLBWA is making great strides with the use of electronic apps to assist in various aspects of vision screening.
“If we find anything abnormal on this nice fancy app, we refer the clients to the Blind Welfare Association where they will do some further investigations and see if there is anything serious or if they just did not do the screening well.”
Health officials and experts in St.Lucia say the number of new cases of diabetes increases at an alarming rate.