Children with diabetes deserve a fighting chance – Min. Lawrence

─ Be champions of your condition, Health Minister urges

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Children and young adults who have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are going against the odds and living exemplary lifestyles in spite of their condition.

Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence pointed out that the diagnosed children deserve more than just another opportunity. “I am so happy to be associated with these wonderful people who have decided that they are going to commit themselves to ensure that boys and girls (with diabetes) across the length and breadth of Guyana are given a fighting chance. A fighting chance to live just as any other boy or girl.”

The minister was at the time interacting with 35 youths living with diabetes and their parents at an annual diabetic youth camp.

The Health Minister further shared that, as a cancer survivor, she identifies with them. “Just as you have a condition, I had a condition too, I had cancer, I was diagnosed with cancer so I can empathise with you knowing that you have a condition too but you know what, we are all fighters so we are not about to give up on any condition.”

This is the third year the camp is being hosted by the Ministry of Public Health in collaboration with the Guyana Diabetic Association and Young Leaders in Diabetes. The group is being facilitated at Camp Madewini on the Linden Soesdyke Highway from Aug 22-25.

The campers engaged in various activities and educational exercises that focused on how one can manage diabetes while they learnt more of adverse effects of diabetes diagnosis such as diabetic retinopathy, diabetic ketoacidosis, diabetic neuropathy and hyperglycemia.

President of the Guyana Diabetic Association (GDA), Glynnis Alonzo-Beaton explained that while the camp may be the highlight of annual activities in this regard, GDA engages the youth in a number of beneficial and inspirational exercises.

“Outside of the youth camp we carry them through a phase called project writing, project implementation and so each child is given the opportunity to work with someone without diabetes on a project, it helps them to grow academically, mentally, emotionally and socially,” Beaton explained.

Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud spoke of removing the stigma attached to children with type 1 diabetes. “It’s not a disease anymore, it’s just a condition and boys and girls, young men and women can live with this condition.”

He added that in most cases if given a fair chance, these same children can excel, live longer and achieve as much as a normal person.

Delicia Haynes

Images: Jules Gibson

Editor’s Note: Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy

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