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The time has come to do a detailed study to determine if certain genes are directly linked to diabetes. Making the call on Tuesday was Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan who was speaking at a celebratory symposium for a diabetes outreach programme. The programme was a collaboration between the T&T Health Sciences Initiative (TTHSI) and the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Speaking just before the health minister, Dr Dyer Narinesingh, president of the University of T&T (UTT), said every day four new cases of diabetes were added to the country’s growing number. He said it was important that technology be incorporated into medicine, especially in the field of research. Khan, who echoed Narinesingh’s sentiments, said while it was known that the East Indian population was more susceptible than the Africans in acquiring diabetes, the root cause of the disease has never been known.
“We know of the symptoms and we know of the complications. For years we have had in this country diabetes and diabetic problems...amputations and all complications with it. But what really causes diabetes? I have often asked myself this,” Khan said. Saying the increasing list of diabetics was important in determining whether the disease only thrived in particular genes Khan said with the use of proper technology it would be helpful to have a genetic model to assist in the research process.
It was also important, Khan added, to tackle lifestyle factors such as poor eating habits and lack of exercise, as well as to focus on primary health care. “This is developing a health care system where every person can walk into a health centre to get simple tests done and screening without any sort of delay. “Once a person’s diet changes and the lifestyle is healthier, then this could result in more bed space at the hospitals,” Khan added.
He was also hopeful that this would not be the end of the relationship with Johns Hopkins, as T&T would want to continue the partnership.