The Antigua and Barbuda Diabetes Association, in partnership with the Rotary Club, will stage its annual Diabetes Awareness Walk this Saturday.
The walk forms part of the activities which will be held by the association leading up to and following World Diabetes Day on 14th November.
From 2021 to 2023, the World Diabetes associations globally will focus on promoting improved access to health care.
According to President of the ABDA, Juanita James, participants will gather at Rotary House, on the corner of Factory Road and Nugent Avenue, to begin the walk at 5am.
Registration can be performed by contacting members of the ABDA, however on Thursday and Friday from 4pm to 6pm, registration will take place at Rotary House.
Upon payment of the $30 registration fee, a package for the walk will be given to each participant. It includes a bag, water during the walk and light refreshments at the end of the activity.
The walk, which is now in its third year, is one of several activities staged by the ABDA, including Caribbean Wellness Day in September which is also carried out in partnership with the Rotary Club.
James explained to Pointe FM’s Vernon Springer during Tuesday’s edition of Pointe On De Streetz that Type II diabetes specifically, a non-communicable disease, remains a significant health issue in Antigua and Barbuda, therefore raising awareness about the largely lifestyle related disease is crucial.
“Diabetes is a big problem in terms of the number of persons living with diabetes.
“We don’t have hard data for Antigua and Barbuda but it is reflected in the number of cases we see attending our health centres, hospitalisations, and certainly, it ranks between three and four as cause of death in the country.”
Globally, there are more than 530 million people living with diabetes.
Alarmingly, it is estimated that as many as 200 million more people are undiagnosed and unaware that they are living with the disease.
James said these startling statistics justify the three year World Diabetes Day theme, Access to Diabetes Care, and as she explained, this access includes access to education.
“Education is important at several levels and let me start with people knowing about diabetes, just knowing that they may be at an increased risk for developing diabetes,”
People at increased risk of developing diabetes include those with a family history of the disease, women who developed gestational diabetes and women who delivered babies weighing more than nine pounds.
The risk also increases among people of African descent and in people over age 35 who are predisposed to developing the disease.
A connection has long been established between inactivity and the development of diabetes.
James said this is why exercise, a healthy lifestyle and diet are heavily promoted in the ABDA’s awareness campaigns.
“This is why we promote physical activity and we bring awareness to our walk. If you have been putting on weight, if you are overweight or obese, these are risk factors.”
Equally important, she continued, is being able to identify the early symptoms of the disease.
“If they start urinating more frequently, if they’re drinking a lot more than usual, if they are losing weight rapidly and they can’t explain why, getting blurred vision, feeling just extremely tired, so these are some of the issues,” James explained.