Home African Caribbean Global Diabetes Month Is November Each Year

Global Diabetes Month Is November Each Year

by Tony Kelly
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November worldwide is national diabetes month  and  the 14th November  is designated each year as   World Diabetes Day. That  is the birthday of the  Canadian scientist  Sir Frederick Banting  who along with his French medical student Charles Best discovered one hundred and one years ago  the synthetic/artificial drug insulin which is used to treat people with the medical condition diabetes.  The incredible story of how Dr. Banting injected the concoction he made into a  meagre dog  who subsequently gained weight is well documented on the internet and I would urge readers to check it out.

It would be remiss of me not to highlight both November as  national  diabetes month and the 14th as World Diabetes Day having the perfect platform to do so via www.caribdirect.com  online and also being a diabetes ambassador/activist nationally and internationally for over  eleven years. In writing articles such as this my intention is to make sure that it is jargon and acronym free and also avoid using medical terms which do not resonate with the public. In other words, speaking  in plain language without being patronizing/condescending resonates better within communities.

It is not for me to bore anyone repeatedly  with the alarming worldwide figures of the increase of diabetes in people which is still not being taken seriously by some politicians, some governments,  some healthcare professionals,  some patients  and carers  and the public at large. It remains a serious threat to the health of most nations and that includes adults and children. Two deeply worrying statistics which I will bring to your attention are that someone dies from the complications of diabetes worldwide every eight seconds and in 2021 alone 6.7 million people died from diabetes related causes. To constantly hear diabetes still being referred to as having a ‘touch of sugar’ thus minimizing and trivializing what is a serious  medical condition is incredible.

8%  of people have type 1 diabetes and this occurs when the pancreas (a six-inch gland situated behind the navel or in some cultures referred to as the belly button)  which makes the hormone insulin stops doing so completely and one has to inject insulin in that area of the body up to three times a day for the rest of one’s life. Some prefer to have an insulin pump strapped to the body to drip this life saving drug slowly  as in either case that is what keeps the insulin user alive. To this day nobody in the healthcare profession knows what causes the pancreas to stop working altogether (hence type 1)  and simply put without insulin to regulate the food one eats and drinks, death is inevitable. Readers need to understand that type 1 diabetes  has nothing to do with lifestyle, weight, size, ethnicity, age  or gender and children as well as adults can suddenly have their pancreas stop producing any insulin at all.

Having diabetes of its own is not  necessarily the problem if one manages/controls it by way of physical activity and a healthy well-balanced diet. Therein lies the issue  as some people tend to eat a lot of junk food and lead a sedentary/couch potato existence instead of making the lifestyle and behavioural changes to avoid the complications of strokes, blurred vision leading to blindness, heart attacks, kidney/renal failure and lower limb amputations.  Inevitably many die prematurely or what is often referred in some cultures as ‘Gone too soon’.  The aim of this article is to encourage  more movement and better eating habits which in turn reduce the risk factors alluded to.

90% of people with diabetes have type 2 and in this case the pancreas is either not making enough insulin or what is being produced is not  doing its job properly. It can be hereditary but being overweight and having too much fat around the midriff can increase the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. It is important to note that one should as much as possible avoid stressful situations  which can also cause the blood glucose/sugar levels to rise, thus affecting the pancreas and the resulting effect being the onset of type 2 diabetes.  There is a well-known cultural myth/misconception that only people who are overweight develop type 2 diabetes. That needs to be dispelled or demystified as  people of an average weight  can also develop it, where the fat surrounds both the liver and pancreas even though they are slim.

The main symptoms that someone might have diabetes or be on the borderline of getting it, sometimes referred to as pre-diabetes  are known as the 4 ‘T’s,  i.e., tired, toilet, thirsty and thinner. I am always encouraging participants in presentations that I deliver to have their annual health checks done as that is the starting point and take it from there.  Diabetes can remain undetected in the body for up to ten years with none of the usual symptoms manifesting themselves.

This time last year for the entire month of November I was on a Caribbean tour of Barbados and Jamaica delivering diabetes awareness presentations which were well received as the thirst for knowledge, pardon the pun, was evident and one hastens to add this was my lived experience or reality from a patient perspective.  I was appreciated and well-received in the communities and constantly get messages asking when am I returning.  One should never underestimate the value of patients as champions and ambassadors and the contribution that they are able to offer in this regard. These patient advocates/activists  do not have a medical model but are indeed patient experts who have a wealth of information to share with others to take on board.

Let me end with a plug of being available to deliver a  diabetes awareness session whether in person or on a webinar so please reach out via emailing [email protected]  as our health is our wealth.

Tony Kelly

Tony Kelly

London born Tony Kelly of Jamaican parents grew up in Jamaica and returned to live in Birmingham in 1979.
He is a graduate of Mico Teachers’ College and taught in Kingston high schools prior to working for 30+ years as a middle manager in central and local government with an emphasis on equity, equality, diversity and inclusion. He has a masters’ degree in socio-legal studies from the university of Birmingham.
For over a decade Tony has volunteered as a diabetes ambassador firstly for Diabetes UK and now for the National Health Service – Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group. A multi-award winner doing a yearly average of 150 health and well-being events, locally, nationally and internationally focusing on type 2 diabetes. He was diagnosed with this medical condition 18 years ago. However with a combination of physical activity and diet he has never taken medication thus proving with the right mindset and discipline it can be achieved.
As a diabetes advocate/activist Tony will continue delivering the message of healthy options to readers of CaribDirect.com .


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1 comment

Bongelo November 7, 2023 - 11:24 am

Tony is a champion on Diabetes Mellitus education.
He is an example to follow.


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