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'All-Time High' Diabetes Diagnoses Puts Bahamas In Spotlight

With the number of diabetes diagnoses at an all-time high in the country, the Bahamas has attracted special attention from the International Diabetes Federation this year.

The global alliance of more than 230 national diabetes associations is now taking a closer look at the Bahamas as millions of people around the globe today observe World Diabetes Day.

"The International Diabetes Federation has taken a particular interest in the Bahamas this year, as our percentage of diagnoses persons has hit an all-time high," said Eugene Thurston, director general of the Bahamas Diabetic Association. "We have intensified our efforts to educate Bahamians on this disease and its serious complications.

Following the release of official statistics in 2012, diabetes was declared a "national epidemic" in the Bahamas. It was stated that the disease is responsible for 29.2 deaths per 100,000 people each year. Former Minister of Health Dr Perry Gomez said statistics from the Princess Margaret Hospital show that there was an average of 100 "lower extremity amputations" in the Bahamas between 2002-2006, and that there were 165 below the knee amputations in 2002 alone due to complications from diabetes.

To increase and focus efforts to battle diabetes, the Bahamas Diabetic Association is joining thousands of groups and organisations globally in recognition of World Diabetes Day.

Celebrated on November 14 annually, the theme for this year's World Diabetes Day (WDD) is "Women and Diabetes".

In recognition of WDD, Scotiabank made a donation to the Bahamas Diabetic Association; employees are also wearing blue ribbons to raise awareness.

"We are committed to helping young people become better off and are thrilled to partner with the Bahamas Diabetic Association to raise awareness as diabetes is prevalent among our population, impacting adults and children," said Nakera Symonette, senior manager of marketing, Scotiabank.

World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organisation in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat posed by diabetes. World Diabetes Day became an official United Nations Day in 2006 with the passage of United Nation Resolution 61/225.

WDD is the world's largest diabetes awareness campaign, reaching a global audience of more than one billion people in more than 160 countries. The campaign draws attention to issues of paramount importance to the diabetes world and keeps diabetes firmly in the public and political spotlight.

The WDD campaign aims to be the platform to promote IDF advocacy efforts throughout the year. It also aims to be global driver to promote the importance of taking coordinated and concerted actions to confront diabetes as a critical global health issue.

The campaign is represented by a blue circle logo that was adopted in 2007 after the passage of the UN resolution on diabetes. The blue circle is the global symbol for diabetes awareness. It signifies the unity of the global diabetes community in response to the diabetes epidemic.

Here in the Bahamas, the national diabetic association was established in 1986 by Ethel Knowles and Diana Pinder, women in the community who at that time both had children suffering with the disease. These women felt the need to establish a support group in an effort to bring together parents facing the same challenge.

As time progressed, other persons in the community suffering from diabetes became aware of what was happening and the advantages of being a part of this movement. As a result, more persons partnered with Ethel and Diana and it is through their combined efforts that the Bahamas Diabetic Association was formed.

The Bahamas Diabetic Association offers many basic services to the community such as glucose testing which is done on a daily basis. The association also stocks items for sale like glucose strips and machines. They also provide a free educational programme for persons recently diagnosed with diabetes. This service is also extended to members' families as a way of offering support and creating an awareness of the implications of the disease on their loved ones and the family as a whole.

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