Granma.cu | BY LILLIAM RIERA
Number of diabetics in Cuba could double by 2010 • In the Habana municipality of Jaruco an active investigation within the population is underway, looking to the prevention and treatment of diabetes, an effort that is later to be extended to the rest of the country
CURRENTLY there are 375,095 registered cases of diabetes in Cuba, a figure that could reach 624,000 by 2010, affirmed Dr. Oscar Díaz, director of the National Institute of Endocrinology, a special center devoted to treatment of this condition that causes the death of three million people a year worldwide.
Diabetes is a disease that is on the rise. According to facts broadcast on the Cuban “Roundtable” TV program addressing the issue, 246 million people in the world are currently living with the affliction, a figure that is expected to reach 380 million by 2025.
The disease can lead to a diabetic coma, that can be fatal, and other chronic complications which can manifest themselves in the long term as heart trouble or cardiac arrest, thrombosis or brain hemorrhage, kidney disease, vision loss and others like sores on the feet that, left untreated, can lead to amputation.
In Cuba, where more than 3% of the population has diabetes, it is the eighth most frequent cause of death. As Dr. Díaz explained to the weekly Trabajadores, of the total diagnosed, only around 1,000 are children.
Cuba has Diabetic Treatment Centers in all provinces except Sancti Spíritus and the special municipality of the Isle of Youth, where patients are taught to understand and control their disease in order to live independent and useful lives.
Adults as well as children learn exercises that they should do, the type of nutrition that is best for them, the use of specific medications, checking glucose in the blood and urine to prevent complications which, if they should arise, can be given specialized treatment within the national health system.
For example, angiology services are provided which serve to prevent amputations required as a result of diabetic foot ulcers. Also to be highlighted is the unique product developed by Cuban biotechnologists, Citoprop-p, which has been used successfully to cure these lesions.
Currently, public health officials are actively working on research and inquiries into diabetes within the community.
As was reported on the “Roundtable,” the Habana municipality of Jaruco, an agricultural community of 25,574 residents, was selected as the locale for this pilot program that will later be implemented across the country.
Dr. Vladimir González, Jaruco’s municipal public health director, explained that the study involves more than 20,000 individuals over the age of 15 and includes questionnaires and analyses carried out in the family doctor offices.
This effort will allow for even more information on the incidence of diabetes within the Cuban population and at the same time support its control through prevention (the most important according to expert opinion), early detection, education of the afflicted and their families and the implementation of measures to prevent complications.
It is recognized that in order to prevent diabetes, it is necessary to understand the risk factors and to administer glucose tolerance tests.
Some of these risk factors (age and genetics) cannot be changed, but others related to patterns of behavior (obesity and sedentary life style) can be addressed.