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Training nurses essential to diabetes care
The training of nurses and educating healthcare providers are two of the interventions which can greatly assist diabetics. Visiting Prof Paul Ladenson (Endocrinology) from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, made these comments before World Diabetes Day which was celebrated on November 14.
Along with Prof Emeritus Pediatric Endocrinology, David Goldstein, Ladenson was in town for the launch of the Academy of Diabetes Clinicians of T&T at Hyatt Regency Hotel, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain, on November 6.
For the past two years, Ladenson has been working on the local diabetes outreach programme. It is a collaboration among the T&T Health Sciences Initiative (TTHSI), University of Trinidad and Tobago, Johns Hopkins, University of the West Indies and the ministries of Health, Science, Technology and Tertiary Education and other government organisations and local organisations.
It focuses on educational collaborations and research initiatives. The outreach provides education on foot care, offers cholesterol profiles and engages in kidney testing.
Asked about diabetes in T&T, Ladenson said, “The training of nurses and is an essential part of how to manage diabetes. It’s done in the UK and Europe. It’s an opportunity for nurses to acquire the skills. It’s clear nurses might have relatives with diabetes and they are well-positioned to take on caring and managing diabetes. A lot of people need to get involved like opthalmologists (eye specialists) and podiatrists (foot doctors).”
He also lauded the academy and its physicians and nurses for recognising the need for improvements aimed at creating sustainability. “There is need for testing and continuous education. We see the academy as providing healthcare to those who need it.”
Among the academy’s flagbearers is its president Claude Khan. Since 2006, he joined the South West Regional Authority with a remit to develop community-based diabetes/hypertension clinics. Similar to Ladenson, Khan is committed to the concept of a team approach to chronic disease management and is passionate about patient and healthcare providers empowerment.
T&T, USA work together
Comparing T&T to America, Ladenson said, “I find the challenges are the same as America. I have come away feeling I was getting more, much more knowledge and experience in the two years I have been here. I have learned much more than I have given to them.”
Ladenson lamented diabetes was a worldwide epidemic. “There are about 350 million people with diabetes. Problems are common elsewhere. Diabetes is such a big problem. Lifestyle changes and adherence to medication are important. No one could claim the US has figured out a way to eradicate the problem.”
Zeroing on the programme of collaboration, Ladenson said, “We have to work together. It is best for you...to shine a light in a way that local providers can’t.” Ladenson confessed, however, he didn’t know the Trini colloquialism for diabetes was “sugar.”
About diabetes in T&T
Diabetes is the second leading cause of death in T&T, affecting more than 12 per cent of adults. The World Health Organisation (Who) estimates that cardiovascular disease causes 37 per cent of deaths locally. TTHSI helps patients with interventions like its retinopathy screening programme to identify individuals at risk for blindness and its Diabetes Care Performance Dashboard to monitor the state of diabetes care nationwide.
Contact TTHSI at 756-9468/766-5874/ PO Wrightson Road,PoS/email:[email protected]