$50M ‘first of its kind’ Diabetes Centre opens at Lusignan

--to offer specialised care to patients, support other health facilities on East Coast corridor

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By Sharda Bacchus

shardabacchus@newsroom.gy

Aimed at providing all of the specialised care needed to “properly” manage diabetes, a $50M “first of its kind” Diabetes Comprehensive Centre was on Saturday commissioned at Lusignan, East Coast Demerara.

The centre was designed to offer services, including eye and cardiovascular screening, diabetic wound care, radiology services, dietary counselling, mental health counselling and physiotherapy and rehabilitation services.

At the opening ceremony, Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony said currently, the prevalence of diabetes in Guyana is “relatively” high with some 50,000 people living with the disease.

And such, Dr Anthony said there is need for a primary health care system so that persons can be diagnosed in a “better” way and they can get into the habit of having preventative checkups.

“If people start doing preventative checkups, then we would be able to identify things very early and we would be able to prevent or delay the onset of a lot of chronic diseases,” he said.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony and others at the Diabetes Centre (Photo: Delano Williams/April 1, 2023)

He said the ministry has recognised that the country is in transition from infectious diseases to more chronic non-communicable diseases.

“If you look at the reason why people die, you will see more people die from chronic non-communicable diseases rather than infectious diseases…We have to solve the problem with infectious diseases,” he said.

And with programmes being implemented, Dr Anthony said there has been a reduction in the numbers.

“Because of the programmes we have put in place, we are seeing a relative reduction but we have seen an increase of people having chronic non-communicable diseases and its complications and therefore we have to really plan to make sure that we can reduce this type of disease for our population,” he explained.

The Health Minister further noted that it is the ministry’s intention to have the system replicated throughout the country.

“The idea over time is that all our health centres will be able to provide treatment using this regime…We are transiting from the traditional way of providing care to providing care that is more specific, more effective because it is scientifically tested and so that we can have better outcome for our patients,” he said.

Meanwhile, in his remarks, PAHO/WHO representative to Guyana, Dr Luis Codina said in the Americas, some 20 to 22 deaths per a 100 population are attributed to diabetes.

He noted that the management of diabetes is costly since it requires special care and insulin.

Inside the Diabetes Centre (Photo: Delano Williams/April 1, 2023)

And while education is important, he said prevention and management of complications is “critical.”

“It is a public health problem in the sub region…The treatment and the management of the complication is critical in terms of reduce the mortality…It’s an individual task but also a societal task,” Dr Codina said.

He further noted that PAHO is confident that the services provided at centre will ensure better management and treatment of patients affected by diabetes and its complications.

Family Medicine Specialist, Dr Indira Bhoj described diabetes care as “complex.”

According to Dr Bhoj, over the years Guyana has achieved much in terms of specialised diabetes care. However, she said primary care practices have not evolved accordingly.

To this end, she noted an “urgent” shift is required in the way primary health care is delivered.

“Diabetes care revolves around goal setting and achieving targets. This requires a shift in perspective by patients but mostly importantly by practitioners,” Dr Bhoj added.

Apart from the services provided, the centre will also serve as a hub for continuous training for physicians and health care workers across the country in “proper” diabetes care. It will also support laboratory testing of all health facilities on the East Coast corridor.

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