Diabetics share testimonies, raise awareness on disease


Dr Gedeon addressing the audience at yesterday’s forum

Public health commissioner Dr Jude Gedeon launched the half-day forum at the Sheikh Khalifa Diagnostic Centre at the Seychelles Hospital in Victoria.

The forum, which was part of activities to mark World Diabetes Day (WDD) yesterday, was attended by Health minister Erna Athanasius, principal secretary Bernard Valentin, the World Health Organisation (WHO) liaison officer for Seychelles Dr Cornelia Atsyor, the chairperson of the Diabetic Society of Seychelles, K.D. Pillay, several diabetic patients and other guests.

Dr Gedeon thanked all the patients who had accepted to share their experiences with the public in the hope of creating awareness.

“It is not always easy to share personal experiences but they have accepted to speak about their condition and share their testimonies,” Dr Gedeon said.

He noted that diabetes is a condition which if left untreated leads to severe health complications such as kidney problems, brain damage, high blood pressure, amputation of limbs.

Dr Gedeon urged people of all ages to take better care of themselves to avoid diseases like diabetes.

This year’s  World Diabetes Day campaign marks the third year of the International Diabetes Federation's five-year focus on "Diabetes education and prevention," the theme chosen for the period 2009-2013.

Over 300 million people are living with diabetes in the world and this figure could be higher with possibly many undetected and untreated cases. The slogan chosen for this year's campaign is: Act on Diabetes. Now!

The situation in Seychelles is considered alarming with over 6000 people diagnosed with the disease.
This figure could also be higher since the last study on the disease was carried out in 2004.

But according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), this year 14.7 million adults in the Africa region are estimated to have diabetes, with a regional prevalence of 3.8%. The range of prevalence (%) figures between countries reflects the rapid transition communities in the region are facing.  The highest prevalence of diabetes in the Africa region is in the island of Réunion (16.3 %), followed by Seychelles (12.4%), Botswana (11.1%) and Gabon (10.6%).

Diabetes is the name given to a group of different conditions in which there is too much glucose in the blood. The pancreas either cannot make insulin or the insulin it does make is not enough and cannot work properly. Without insulin doing its job, glucose builds up in the blood leading to high blood glucose levels which cause the health problems linked to diabetes.

In yesterday’s forum Lindy Gilbert, a nurse working in the Diabetes Clinic, made a presentation on the situation in Seychelles where she noted that more and more young people are suffering from the disease.

Isabelle Joubert, a nurse manager in her 50s, recounted her ordeal and how as a person caring for the health of others she at first brushed aside her own condition after a relatively high level of sugar was found in her blood.

For her, the fact that no one in her family was diabetic was no cause for urgency until she suffered from the symptoms such as tiredness, which reduced her ability to carry out her day to day activity.

From then she changed her lifestyle, visited her doctor to have her blood checked and went on treatment.

Five years later she is much better but she’s had to make a lot of adjustments to her life style.

Jennifer Jean, a woman in her late 40s, has lost her eyesight to diabetes and she has gone overseas for treatment twice and today she depends on other people to do things for her.

Erica Suzette, a woman in her 50s, has been living with the disease for some 30 years now and she has kidney problems which makes her a dialystic patient.

While diabetes is a lifelong condition there are some risk factors which can be changed and these include: changing the types of food we eat, quitting smoking, losing weight, reducing cholesterol level, doing more exercise.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle may delay the need for tablets and/or insulin. However it is important to know that if you do need tablets and/or insulin, this is just the natural progression of the disease. By taking tablets and/or insulin as soon as they are needed, complications caused by diabetes can be reduced.

The recommendations which came out of discussions on various issues related to diabetes will be used by the Ministry of Health and its partners in their programmes to manage the disease. 

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