World Diabetes Day is being observed today in hundreds of nations. In Belize, the focus is on awareness, prevention and management. Reporter Alisha Valentine reports.
Every November 14 countries all over the world come together to shed light on diabetes melitus. The Belize Diabetes Association (BDA) alongside the Lions Club and International Assist hosted their first diabetes conference in Belize City at the Ramada Princess Hotel. The focus was primarily on prevention and management. According to the president of the BDA Desiree Daniels if diabetes is left untreated or unmanaged it can lead to life changing complications such as blindness and amputation.
Deserie Daniels: President, Belize Diabetes Association: “We have presenters by medical specialist who are all doctors of Belize. We have the only diabetes specialist in Belize Dr.Eric Bradley, we have Doctor Samuels who is a cardiologist he spoke about diabetes and hypertension and obesity as well as Dr.Shiloh he is a pediatrician therefore he presented about type 1 diabetes. This afternoon we will be having other presenters such as Dr.Hagar who is the eye specialist he will be doing diabetic retinopathy and the nutritionist Mr.Duran he will be talking about the importance of healthy eating and living with the changes that you go through living with the condition diabetes. The Belize Diabetes Association’s main focus is on persons living with the condition diabetes to educate them and the general public at large about diabetes. The participants showing up today they are mostly diabetics and their supporters as well these are persons who attend to patients living with diabetes or their family members who support those living with diabetes. The main purpose of them being here today is for them to be educated about how to prevent diabetes, the prevention and the care – self management which is very important when dealing with diabetes.”
Educator Anthony Adolphus is a senior member of the BDA and shared with Love News the statistics of Belize’s population suffering with diabetes.
Anthony Adolphus, Belize Diabetes Association Member: “Here in Belize according to the International Diabetes Federation there are 14.2% of Belize’s adult population living with diabetes; that’s age group 20-79 and that converts to about a little over 50,000 Belizeans living with diabetes and basically this is type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately Belize seems to – in our region the north american and Caribbean region, Belize is one of the highest where you find incidents of diabetes. We at the diabetes association have a register where we have a little over sixty five young persons. These are children and young adults living with the condition diabetes and here is where we urge parents to sign up with the Belize Diabetes Association where they could be assisted and so that the child could learn how who to cope with this condition. Diabetes is one of the conditions which is life long once you acquire the condition it’s for the remainder of your life. It’s important for us to educate and teach the child how to cope with the condition and also to assist the parents that they’ll be able to assist the children living with the condition as well. The association needs to do a little bit more in going to the schools to educate the children, educate the teachers, the principals on the condition. There are some very unfortunate incidents where we hear of discrimination against our children living with type 1 diabetes all because of ignorance.”
In Belize the group mainly affected by diabetes are adolescents and young children. The risk increases during adolescence and merges into adulthood. Nairobi Cortez, an adolescent with type 1 diabetes has had her share of challenges as she explained to Love News.
Nairobi Cortez, Youth Coordinator, Belize Diabetes Association: “I had the main two symptoms which was frequent urination, constant thirst. Not most diabetics when they’re getting diagnosed they would say hunger would be one of the symptoms but I have never had that experience I more lost my appetite completely, I had no feeling for wanting to eat so that was one of my symptoms. It comes with a lot of discipline which much of us we have not grown to accept that this is the condition that we have to live with. It took me a while to learn that this is what you have even though you may not like it it’s what you have to live with. People would talk about temptation which is true we are tempted sometimes, I go through it as a female I do have certain cravings, times when you want to binge but eventually you fall back on the daily routine. If you want to survive you will make that effort to do better.”
This year’s theme is “Family and Diabetes”