Diabetes accounts for substantial portion of health budget, says Nevis Health Minister

Diabetes alone accounts for a substantial portion of the health budget in Nevis, a trend that Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) Hon. Hensley Daniel regards as worrying.

Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration Hon. Hensley Daniel (file photo)

Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration Hon. Hensley Daniel (file photo)

In a televised address to mark the observance of World Diabetes Day on Nevis on November 14th, Mr. Daniel explained that the cost of keeping the island?s known 500 diabetics healthy so that they could contribute to economic and social development ran into millions of dollars.

?When we assess the total cost of the disease, we recognise the need to double our efforts to reduce the incidence. Obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes,? he said.

Mr. Daniel referred to the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI) who he said had observed that there was an epidemic of obesity in the Caribbean where children and adults were overweight.

He said in order to combat the disease, the NIA had conceptualised the wrap around idea in which health was linked to all aspects of the economy.

?Health and tourism, where workers in the industry are kept healthy to serve the visitors and visitors are provided with adequate care should they become sick; Health and agriculture to develop school and kitchen gardens to improve diet; Health and sports to increase physical activity and promote wellness and Health and Trade to remove foods that are rich in trans fats and sugar from shelves,? he said.

The Minister urged restaurants, caterers and cooks to become more creative in their preparation of foods that were lower in trans fats and sugar in order to help to reduce the incidence of diabetes.

The NIA he said would continue to play its part through the establishment of a diabetes registry; sharpen the focus on physical education; pay closer attention to nutritional value of school meals; train more young people in the preparation of healthy foods; provide healthy, secure exercise spaces and wellness centres and increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

The Health Minister said the Administration would also seek to make healthy choices easy choices in relation to prices and availability; strengthen prevention, promotion and research and to institute early identification and monitoring systems to track disease.

Students on Nevis display signs depicting the ills of diabetes (file photo)

Students on Nevis display signs depicting the ills of diabetes (file photo)

Diabetes he explained could lead to impoverished families and communities and the NIA recognised that. It was for that reason he said they had focussed heavily on prevention through the promotion of diet and exercise and had integrated health as part of a social well being programme.

He said the celebration of World Food Day should cause all on Nevis to pause and examine their lifestyle and determine whether they were working to reduce the incidence of diabetes.

?The human and financial cost of the disease demands a strong response from all of us. That strong response calls for fundamental changes in lifestyle and diet,? he said

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