By Jasminee Sahoye
More than 100 people packed the Jamaican Canadian Association auditorium to be educated about prevention and managing diabetes, a disease that affects thousand of Canadians.
The sixth-annual Black Diabetes Expo was aimed at reaching more Afro Canadians living with the disease in the GTA, and it’s a growing number.
The brainchild of Kathleen Nelson, who chairs the Caribbean Diabetes Chapter, Canadian Diabetes Association, the event brought together people from the Jamaican Diaspora, plus people of Guyanese origin, some from the small islands and a few from the Indian subcontinent.
There were also a number of exhibitors showing diabetes-related products and services.
Patricia, a member of the audience, who has been diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension, said she has been trying to eat well, exercise and take her daily doses of pills prescribed by her doctor. However, she said the “specialists” have given her more knowledge and information that will help her to better deal with the disease.
Similar sentiments were expressed by others who spent the day at the event.
Among some of the presentations were ‘Taking control of your blood pressure will control diabetes management’ by Dr. George K. Dresser, who wowed the audience. They engaged him in a number of questions.
He talked about the effects high blood pressure can have on people with diabetes and why exercise is very important for managing stress which leads to high blood pressure.
Dr. Michael Sarin, who specializes in exercise programs for prevention and management of type 2 diabetes, had an overwhelming response from the audience. He had some practical demonstrations on how simple exercise can help.
Aileen Leo of the Canadian Diabetes Association gave a presentation on the Diabetes Charter for Canada, a call to action with 22,000 signatures and counting. Included in the Charter are special considerations like the age, cultural background, language and religion of people with diabetes, which can be barriers to care.
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, people with diabetes are over three times more likely to be hospitalized with cardiovascular disease, 12 times more likely to be hospitalized with end-stage renal disease and over 20 times more likely to be hospitalized for a non-traumatic lower limb amputation compared to the general population.
“Thirty percent of people with diabetes have clinically relevant depressive symptoms; individuals with depression have an approximately 60% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Foot ulceration affects an estimated 15-25% of people with diabetes at some time in their lives. One-third of amputations in 2011-12 were performed on people reporting a diabetic foot wound,” the association says.
Populations of South Asian, Asian, African, Hispanic or Aboriginal descent are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes and those who are overweight, older or have low income.