Reema carmona, right, wife of President Anthony Carmona, receives a floral presentation from a member of the Diabetes Association at the Association's 24th Annual Symposium at the UTT South Campus in Tarouba yesterday.
Author: ANIL RAMPERSAD
THERE are 36,000 people living with diabetes in Trinidad and Tobago. Dr Helmer Helwig of the Ministry of Health, said that with such a high number patients need to be educated more about the illness and its treatment. Speaking yesterday at the 24th annual Symposium for Self-Management and Diabetes hosted by the Diabetes Association of Trinidad and Tobago (DATT), Helwig said the time has come for diabetes patients to play a more active role in their own care .The symposium was held at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (south campus), Tarouba, San Fernando. Speaking on the importance of patient empowerment, Helwig said whilst doctors do in fact have a role to play, ultimately, patients were responsible for themselves. Patients need to be more informed about the disease, like knowing the name of the medication they use, he said, citing a case where one patient referred to a “white pill” given by the doctor. Helwig said, “Patients are primarily responsible for caring for themselves. The health care professional must help the patient make click on pic to zoom in Diabetes Association at the Association'... informed decisions to achieve goals. Patients need to be experts and know what certain terms mean.” Furthermore, Helwig said, citizens of Trinidad and Tobago have absolutely no excuse for not being aware because there is free education, free medication, and lifestyle centres at hospitals. Patron of DATT, Reema Carmona, wife of President Anthony Carmona, endorsed Helwig’s statement, saying there was a “looming crisis” in that Trinidad and Tobago “has the highest incident of diabetes in the Western Hemisphere.” Mrs Carmona said diabetes was a global concern because the World Health Organisation estimates that by the year 2030, over 500 million people will be diagnosed with diabetes. Non communicable diseases of which diabetes was one, are the leading cause of morbidity and premature death in Trinidad and Tobago, she said, adding that over 60 percent of deaths in the country were attributed to non-communicable diseases. “Diabetes is the second highest cause of death in this country,” she added, suggesting that to start to addressing the problem, parents, instead of putting a soda in the lunchbags of their children, should put a bottle of water.
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