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Cayman Islands Government

Take Control of Diabetes

Hon Mark Scotland, MLA

Message from

Minister of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture

The Hon. Mark Scotland

For World Diabetes Day

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The International Diabetes Federation warns that if governments, health authorities and communities don't take urgent action, the total number of people with diabetes could reach 300 million within the next decade.

This means that many countries will see up to 5% of their Gross Domestic Product and over 25% of their public healthcare budgets go towards dealing with the consequences of diabetes. In the US, treating the complications of diabetes cost the government a staggering $5,000 per patient per year. This does not include patients' out of pocket expenses.

Diabetes is already the world's most costly epidemic, but unfortunately the statistics bear out that we will see this health crisis grow at an accelerated pace. This will inevitably increase the cost burden on society considerably. In 2007, the total cost of diabetes worldwide was set at $190 billion. At current rates, by 2020, the US alone will face a cost burden of $221 billion per year.

Sadly, our local situation mirrors these global trends and the time is now to ask ourselves earnestly if we can afford to ignore this development. Apart from the personal cost and hardships that comes with diabetes, we are obviously facing a potential economic predicament too. According to local statistics, the Health Services Authority (HSA) is currently treating 2,000 diabetic patients. However, health officials estimate that an equal number is receiving care through private practitioners.

With this is mind, it is then fitting that we once again join the international community in commemorating World Diabetes Day on Sunday, 14 November . Prompted by an acute need to raise awareness of this silent epidemic, this year's international event is aptly themed "Let's Take Control of Diabetes. Now"

I am pleased to note that the HSA, Cayman Islands Diabetes Association and other community groups are once again actively promoting diabetes education and prevention - the two strongest defenses against this looming health crisis. I encourage everyone to wholeheartedly join in the local activities, such as diabetes screening and the HSA's diabetes education course.

Early detection of diabetes and its control improve the lives of sufferers by preventing further complications. I therefore implore you to take advantage of the wealth of information presented at the diabetes course. This education session will also sharpen the practical skills needed to manage diabetes well.

Health professionals and diabetes sufferers alike will certainly agree that there is hope in positive actions such as taking personal responsibility and helping each other to make the right lifestyle choices. So empower yourself to take control of your diabetes now!