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TT among top countries with diabetes

By Richardson Dhalai Tuesday, November 15 2016

Trinidad and Tobago has earned the unenviable position of being ranked among those countries with the fastest growing number of diabetic cases with one thousand persons diagnosed with diabetes on a yearly basis.

Acting Director of Health, Dr Dale Sookoo, made the observation at the Couva District Health Facility Diabetes Symposium and Health Fair, Camden Road, Couva yesterday.

Citing statistics from the Diabetes Association of TT (DATT), Sookoo said diabetes was the nation’s second leading cause of death as every year “1,000 adults in our island are diagnosed with diabetes, adding to a population of more than 150,000 patients nationwide and a rate of diabetes prevalence at 12- 13 percent, that is almost twice the global average.” And with this year’s theme being- “eyes on Diabetes”, Sookoo said an area of focus continued to be the prevention of blindness in diabetic patients.

“Blindness is a life changing disability which puts a heavy strain on the daily lives of sufferers, their families and society at large,” he said, and noted that diabetic retinopathy was the most common complication of diabetes and a major cause of visual loss.

“Early detection by regular surveillance is thus essential if people with sight threatening retinopathy are to be identified in time to offer them the treatment which can prevent visual loss,” Sookoo said.

He noted that the South West Regional Health Authority, (SWRHGA), possessed a dedicated Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Service which conducts screening at the SWRHA’s primary care facilities “with the goal of screening all diabetic patients identifying urgent disease and referring to our ophthalmology department for early treatment.” Sookoo observed that diabetes was attributed to lifestyle choices and urged patients to exercise, “go out and walk” and cut down on oily and fatty foods.

He also shared advice to younger persons saying they should “get off the couch, put down the video games and pick up a cricket bat, a basketball, a football, ride a bicycle, do something, anything, don’t just sit at home all day long.”

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