Message from the Minister of Health Honourable Dr Frank Anthony on World Diabetes Day 2022

World Diabetes Day is commemorated in November of each year, and the theme on this occasion is “Education to protect tomorrow.”

Diabetes is a major health problem in Guyana since it affects 1 in 10 adults.  This number can be higher since many Guyanese do not undergo regular screening for diabetes.  It is also one of the leading causes of premature death and illness.   While diabetes and its complications are largely preventable, prevention and management strategies are crucial to reduce morbidity and mortality and improving patient outcomes.  Therefore, early detection is essential for managing diabetes.

This year’s theme, “education to protect tomorrow” is indeed opportune. Early detection and treatment are key, along with public policies and primary healthcare services that educate and support people to prevent them from developing diabetes and help those who have diabetes to manage it effectively. Additionally, the risk of developing diabetes can be minimized by: eating healthy foods that are low in fat and calories, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and whole grains; avoiding excessive use of alcohol; and exercising regularly.

Everyone has a role to play in addressing diabetes, particularly the Food Industry, by reducing the amount of sugars and fats in processed food and sweetened beverages.

The Ministry of Health is collaborating with several international partners to ensure that every person living in Guyana is provided with the best diabetes care.  One such partner is the Mount Sinai Health System, to promote testing for diabetes status, and ensures world-class diabetes prevention and treatment are available at health centres nationwide. This partnership includes the following:

  1. Testing for diabetes status, using the “haemoglobin a1c” test. In villages and clinics, we will make this simple, portable blood test – more accurate than a blood sugar – available nationwide, starting in Regions Two and Nine;
  2. Making world-class diabetes prevention and treatment available at health centres nationwide – (not just pills and insulin), but also health coaching on how to change one’s diet and lifestyle to avoid health problems.
  3. Introduction of electronic tools to assist healthcare providers to track progress in preventing and treating diabetes.

The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization is also supporting the establishment of a Diabetes Centre, and the planning and organization of comprehensive services for the screening, treatment and management of individuals at risk and or affected by diabetes.

This World Diabetes Day is just the beginning of a new battle against diabetes across the nation.

Action is needed now, as Guyana has committed to achieving the below WHO targets by 2030.

  • 80% of people living with diabetes are diagnosed.
  • 80% of people with diagnosed diabetes have good glycemic control.
  • 80% of people diagnosed with diabetes have good control of their blood pressure.
  • 60% of people with diabetes of 40 years or older receive statins.
  • 100% of people with type 1 diabetes have access to affordable insulin and blood glucose self-monitoring.

I, therefore, use this opportunity to encourage you to educate yourself about this chronic disease. For those already living with diabetes, I encourage you to stay informed about the disease, follow your doctor’s advice and ensure you stay active and eat healthily. The quality of health you enjoy will be determined by your ability to take care of yourself.