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CARPHA Observes World Diabetes Day

CARPHA Observes World Diabetes Day

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. 13 November 2020.   CARPHA joins its health partners and the rest of the world in commemorating World Diabetes Day 2020, to call attention to the pandemic of diabetes and the need for scaling up of agreed public health best buys to halt the rise of diabetes around the world.

Diabetes, one of the most common non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is a leading cause of death and disability in the Caribbean region, as well as a contributor to the development of cardiovascular diseases.  In 2016, 10.8% of deaths were due to diabetes, and the age-standardized rate for this disease was 74.1 (72.1 Male and 76.0 Female) per 100,000 for the non-Latin Caribbean.

CARPHA Executive Director Dr Joy St. John stated, “Complications from diabetes can lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation.  This disease can adversely affect both the quality and length of your life and that of your family.  Screening for diabetes as part of your routine health checks annually is important.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has also affected the global efforts to control diabetes. Dr. St John further stated that “An analysis of the outcomes of illness in this pandemic have revealed that persons with diabetes, even younger ones, are at a high risk of severe illness and death due to COVID-19. Researchers have also reported that in those who have COVID-19, it worsens the outcome of new-onset diabetes and makes the metabolic complications of persons with pre-existing diabetes even more severe. It is fair to say that COVID-19 and Diabetes are NOT a match made in heaven.

In the public health response to COVID-19, nurses and other healthcare professionals have been on the frontline providing care and support to patients with COVID-19 and diabetes.   However, nurses play a central role in all aspects of the care of persons with diabetes including diabetes education. 

This year’s World Diabetes Day campaign focuses on promoting the role of nurses in the prevention and management of diabetes under the theme "The Nurse and Diabetes". 

The aim is to highlight the crucial role that nurses play in supporting people living with diabetes.   Nurses can make a difference for people affected by diabetes, to help people manage their disease and prevent complications due to diabetes.  According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), approximately 62 million people are living with type 2 diabetes in the Americas and receive care from nurses.

Nurses currently account for over half of the global health workforce, and they do exceptional work to support people living with a wide range of health concerns.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has also designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse.

CARPHA continues to support member states in their efforts to minimize the impact of diabetes.  The Agency is also actively working with partners regionally and internationally including non-governmental organisations to reduce non-communicable diseases and their risk factors in the Region.  

The Agency, in collaboration with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) reviewed and updated the CARPHA Guidelines on the Management of Diabetes in Primary Care in the Caribbean. These guidelines provide a strategic approach to improving diabetes health outcomes, by presenting simple directives on key aspects of care for persons with diabetes (PwD). It will also support the efforts of Ministries of Health, to strengthen and standardise the management of diabetes in primary care and improve outcomes in the care of diabetes, regionally. 

This year CARPHA will commemorate World Diabetes Day with a special webinar series as a part of its CARPHA COVID-19 Health Rounds entitled:  “Raising the Bar: CARPHA Guidelines on the Management of Diabetes in primary care and COVID-19” that will aim to disseminate CARPHA’s Caribbean standard of care for Diabetes and provide an update on diabetes clinical management and COVID-19 infection.

The webinar series is hosted in collaboration with the OECS Health Unit, Caribbean College of Family Physicians, and supported by the French Development Agency (L’Agence Francaise de Developpement) under the Project: ‘Strengthening Strategic Intelligence and Partnership Approaches to prevent and control NCDs and strengthen Regional Health Security in the Caribbean’.

If you are at risk of type 2 diabetes, you can reduce your risk through a healthy diet and physical activity. Encourage family members to monitor their health status regularly by visiting their doctor or a health facility to get screened for diabetes.  For those already affected, the good news is that you are in control, and can prevent complications from diabetes by taking your medication as instructed by a health care provider, having regular screening and treatment for complications along with practicing a healthy lifestyle. Families are essential in ensuring that their loved ones comply with their treatment.

World Diabetes Day was created by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat posed by diabetes. World Diabetes Day is observed every year on  14th November.

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