About 60,000 people battling diabetes in Guyana

--Dr Ramsammy says self-monitoring your ‘sugar’ crucial

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By Vishani Ragobeer

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An estimated 60,000 people living in Guyana are battling diabetes, a disease that has challenged local health authorities for years, according to Advisor to the Ministry of Health Dr. Leslie Ramsammy.

Because the COVID-19 disease has a greater or more severe impact on people with comorbidities (other underlying diseases), concerns over the number of people affected by diabetes, for example, have increased.

Diabetes, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is a chronic disease that essentially means an individual is unable to properly regulate their blood sugar. This can lead to serious damage to the body- including blindness, organ failure and lower limb amputations.

Dr. Ramsammy says that while COVID-19 is the major concern for health systems now, diabetes remains one of the chronic diseases that require serious attention.

“We suspect that there are about 60,000 Guyanese living with diabetes,” he said during a recent interview with the News Room. He emphasised that there is a high prevalence of the disease in Guyana.

Advisor to the Ministry of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy (Photo: News Room/December 7, 2021)

And so, to counter the threat the disease poses to people’s health, he highlighted that a new strategy has been crafted: self-monitoring. This strategy basically involves people regularly monitoring their own blood glucose (sugar) levels.

To do this, he said that work is ongoing to provide glucometers (devices that test the blood sugar levels) and the accompanying testing sticks to some 350 to 400 adult Guyanese living with diabetes.

These people have been identified as the people who have uncontrolled diabetes and may have lost toes, had an amputation or had some other issue.

Three months’ supply of those sticks will be provided to people but the Health Advisor says that efforts are being made to find solutions to sustain the provision of these supplies to people.

With these simple devices, people would be aware of when their blood sugar level changes and would be able to take the necessary preventative steps- such as taking their insulin shots, for example.

In doing so, further harm can be prevented.

Dr. Ramsammy, a former Health Minister, has been appointed to chair the Presidential Commission on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases.

Not long after he was appointed to this position, he noted that in Guyana and in many developing countries, people’s access to blood sugar monitoring is deficient, uneven and unreliable. And part of his work on this commission focuses on diabetes.

He called on the government to ensure that more reliable supplies of medicines and testing kits are available in the public health sector to help people treat their diabetes.

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