OFFICIAL ADDRESS IN OBSERVANCE OF DIABETES AWARENESS WEEK 2016 & World Diabetes Day: November 14, 2016

Fellow Citizens & Residents of St. Kitts and Nevis:
“Eyes on Diabetes” is the theme chosen by the United Nations (UN) as
the 2016 international observance of World Diabetes Day on November 14,
2016. In keeping with this global celebration the St. Kitts Diabetes
Association has organised the 2016 Diabetes Awareness Week, from
November 13-19, 2016, in an effort to educate the public on diabetes as a
chronic disease. The week of activities is also meant to stress the need for
citizens and residents of our Federation to consistently practice healthy
lifestyles and dietary practices and, in the process, not lose sight of the
dangers associated with diabetes.

The Ministry of Health congratulates the Diabetes Association for the
invaluable supporting role it continues to play in promoting the imperatives
of health and wellness. The Ministry of Health is indeed heartened by this
strong partnership response to diabetes. Moreover, as our Country joins
the rest of the global community in celebrating World Diabetes Day we
acknowledge the huge impact that the disease has had on world
populations in both the developed and developing worlds. Since its launch
in 2006 by the UN, World Diabetes Day has become the world’s largest
campaign for diabetes awareness, and attracts a global audience of over
one (1) billion people.

World Diabetes Day has two core objectives, namely:
 To function as a platform that promotes the advocacy efforts of the
International Diabetes Federation (IDF); and
 To be the global driver that promotes the importance of using a
coordinated and focused approach to confront diabetes as a critical
world health issue.
A number of awareness-raising and educational programmes have been
planned by the St. Kitts Diabetes Association to mark Diabetes
Awareness Week and World Diabetes Day 2016. These activities include:
 Worship at St. George’s Anglican Church yesterday, Sunday,
November 13th;
 Free Health Screenings at Independence Square on Friday,
November 18th;
 Presentations to Schools on November 15th – 16th;
 Round Table Discussion on ZIZ; and
 Health Walk on Saturday, November 19th from the Cenotaph in
Fortlands, to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), then back
to the Cenotaph

The Ministry of Health encourages the general public to fully support all of
the various activities, wherever practical. The public is particularly
encouraged to attend the free health screenings, given the fact that the
medical advice and information received could be life-changing and lifesaving.

The Ministries of Health in St. Kitts and Nevis wish to remind the public that
diabetes can be a debilitating disease and should not be taken lightly. In
St. Kitts and Nevis – and the wider Caribbean for that matter – diabetes
has become a major public health concern: it is one of the major noncommunicable
diseases (NCDs) that have collectively become the leading
cause of mortality and morbidity among our people. Other NCDs include
cancer and heart disease.

In its 2016 diabetes awareness campaign the International Diabetes
Federation (IDF) has reminded the global community that diabetes can
affect one’s vision, cause eye disease, and in some cases, lead to
blindness. It is for this reason why early detection and treatment of
diabetes are keys to preventing vision loss and negative impact on
diabetics’ careers and socio-economic status. The IDF also notes that one
in every two individuals with diabetes is unaware that they are diabetic. For
this reason, it is imperative for everyone to have regular medical check-ups
in order to know their status relative to Type 2 diabetes. It should also be
noted that in 2015 some 415 million persons were living with diabetes. At
this pace, it is also predicted that by the year 2040 this number can rise to
642 million, with much of the growth being concentrated in low to middle
income countries. The cost of diabetic care on the global economies
cannot be overlooked either: the IDF estimates that 12% of the global
healthcare expenditure is being spent on adults suffering from diabetes
(equivalent to US$673 billion in 2015). These statistics re-affirm the
staggering impact of diabetes on our global populations – to epidemic
proportions.

As our Federation continues to observe Diabetes Awareness Week and
World Diabetes Day 2016, the Ministries of Health on St. Kitts and Nevis
also use the opportunity to acknowledge the yeoman service that is
consistently being rendered by the members of the St. Kitts Diabetes
Association. Our Ministry notes in particular, the robust advocacy being
done by the Association’s core membership. These individuals are:
• PRESIDENT: Nurse Christine Wattley
• VICE PRESIDENT: Davida Irish
• SECRETARY: Mr Earle Clarke
• TREASURER: Ms Merle Liburd-Browne
• PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER: Dr Reginald O’Loughlin
• and NOMINATED MEMBERS: Janelle Lewis-Tafari, Jasmine
Hanley-Taquechel, Reverend Wilfred Daniel, and Mrs Rosalyn
Grant

Conclusion
I wish to re-emphasize the fact – as I did in last year’s address on World
Diabetes Day – that the disease is a life-altering condition that should not
be taken lightly. With a healthy diet, exercise, medication, a positive
outlook, and particular attention to matters such as foot care, diabetes can
be well-managed and the quality and duration of life can be maximized for
the persons living with the disease. Let us all join the St. Kitts Diabetes
Association in observance of both Diabetes Awareness Week and World
Diabetes Day 2016.
Let us keep our “Eyes on Diabetes” as we continue to educate the public
on diabetes, its impact, and the national response that is required to keep
the disease in check. With God as our Creator and the Author of Life let us
also commit ourselves to the promotion and preservation of healthy
lifestyles that are necessary for the underpinning of our social and
economic development, and the posterity of our people.