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Diabetes an economic burden on T&T—expert

Monday, March 18, 2013

Dr Rosemarie Wright-Pascoe, a leading Caribbean endocrinologist and UWI Mona senior lecturer, said yesterday that diabetes is becoming a global epidemic and there has been a 50 per cent increase in the disease around the world. Wright-Pascoe was speaking at pharmaceutical company Sanofi’s medical conference for local practitioners titled Together Against Diabetes held at Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain.



Wright-Pascoe was among three medical experts speaking on medicinal developments in fighting the non-communicable disease. The other two presenters were US endocrinologist Dr Dawn Smiley, Barbadian endocrinologist and former temporary lecturer at UWI’s Cave Hill campus Dr Carlisle Goddard. 


She added that prevalence of the disease still remains high in T&T, with the country having the second highest rate in the Caribbean. By 2030, Wright-Pascoe projected, T&T could see 125,000 people afflicted with the disease.  She said 80 per cent of people will die from the disease. Not only is it the second leading cause of death in the country (as media reports last year stated) but also the leading cause of adult blindness.


The disease, she said, also places an economic burden on the State. Wright-Pascoe said the indirect cost of diabetes to the State has been US$246 million. A recent study done in conjunction with John Hopkins University on healthcare in Penal resulted in “great cause for concern,” said community diabetologist at South-West Regional Health Authority and chairman Dr Claude Khan.


It showed one in three people did not adhere to their medicinal regimes and diabetics only paid attention to their diet 50 per cent of the time. 


Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan has spoken on the issue of non-communicable diseases in the country and announced the ministry’s plans to combat the high prevalence of the non-communicable diseases, including healthier diets.  Last year at a tour of the new San Fernando Teaching Hospital, Khan said: “We do have a serious epidemic of chronic non-communicable diseases or CNCDs such as including diabetes, heart disease and strokes in Trinidad and Tobago.  


“The root cause of this is unhealthy lifestyles and poor dietary habits,” he said. “Imagine 95 per cent of our young adults and children do not eat the required five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. “Most of the population do not have any physical activity and our diet and taste is mired in sugar, sugar, salt, oil, oil, MSG, exotoxins and addictive ingredients.


“In addition, more than half the population (55.5 per cent) 15 years and over are overweight or obese; a quarter (25 per cent) of school-aged children (5 -18 years) are overweight or obese; and the diabetes prevalence rate among adults is approximately 20 per cent, that is, one in five adults has diabetes.” 


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