With diabetes now the fifth-leading cause of death in the Bahamas, the country’s minister of health urged Bahamians to make more healthy lifestyle choices to prevent getting the disease.

“The prevalence of diabetes in 2005 was 6.7 percent. It has now reached 13.9 percent and if we include pre-diabetics, we have a staggering prevalence of almost 19%,” Dr. Duane Sands said at the Bahamas Podiatric Medical Association Conference on Friday, according to The Tribune, one of the Bahamas’ leading newspapers. “Our death rate from diabetes stands at 37.9 deaths per 100,000 people.”

Noting that it is a well-known fact is that many persons with diabetes suffer from foot and ankle ailment and complications, Sands added, “Around the world, approximately a million people with diabetes will lose a part of their lower limb.”

It is for this reason, Dr Sands said, why prevention of foot ulcers is an important priority for podiatric medicine and the diabetic patient in general.

“Eight-five percent, give or take, of amputations are preceded by an ulcer, and therefore, can be prevented,” the Bahamian health minister said. “With these startling statistics in mind, it demonstrates that a multi-disciplinary team approach for the treatment of diabetics and diabetic foot problems is required.

“Podiatry services were reinstated in the public sector about one year ago and since that time, approximately 700 patients were treated,” he said. “They were aged between three months and 98 years. Sixty percent were treated for a diabetic foot. There were 161 minor surgical cases.”

Sands noted, however, that there is still a major shortage of podiatrists in the country, a shortage he said presents a challenge to the country’s health care system.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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