Diabetes Specialist Dr. Kumar Sukhraj says sensitisation for early detection and treatment is key in preventing death by diabetes, as Guyana observed World Diabetes Day 2022.
Diabetes has been among the top five leading causes of death in Guyana for the last decade, and has been named the fourth leading cause of death and disability in the Americas in 2019.
In 2019, the country in the Americas with the highest age-standardised mortality (excluding chronic kidney disease) due to diabetes was Guyana, with 82.6 deaths per 100 000 populations.
World Diabetes Day is observed annually on 14 November. The theme for 2021 to 2023 is Access to Diabetes Care.
Dr. Kumar Sukhraj is a local Bone specialist and Diabetes specialist who holds a Masters degree in Diabetes management.
Dr. Sukhraj says while persons have more access to information on diabetes now than in the past, increased sensitisation remains the most powerful tool in preventing and controlling diabetes.
“The healthcare system needs to focus a lot on sensitising the people about the importance of screening and provide screening points at every center so people can get easy access to screening. In addition, to screening though, what we can also do is manage diabetes in terms of providing all the necessary supportive care for persons who have diabetes so people don’t feel they are isolated and don’t feel their entire life is defined by the illness.”
He reminded that education supports diabetes prevention, early diagnosis, and the reduction of diabetes complications.
He stated that when persons are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, this can be reversible, while for persons diagnosed with diabetes in the earlier stages, they can still live long, healthy lives with proper treatment and care.
Diabetes is a leading silent but most preventable killer in the Caribbean, mainly due to complications that occur when left untreated for too long.
“The problem we face is that sometimes when patients come in to the office with a complication of diabetes, they sometimes don’t even know they have diabetes. They either come with a wound that isn’t healing, not seeing properly, blurred vision, sudden headaches, feeling dizzy. Then, when they do certain regulatory checks in terms of screening, that’s when you find that they have diabetes.”
Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony shared some efforts Guyana has undertaken as of recent to enhance availability of care and treatment for persons living with diabetes.
“Maybe about 100 or 150 persons that we know are Type I diabetics. These are young people who have been diagnosed with diabetes and the ministry has a programme where we provide these young people with insulin because these persons cannot make insulin on their own, their bodies cannot make insulin on their own.”
Work has also been done to expand access to retinal screening, enhance expertise at foot clinics, and a one stop diabetic spot will be completed in Lusignan by the end of the year.