The Ministry of Health is currently working on an in-depth symposium to be held in January, as part of the development of a national strategy to address Bermuda’s public health crisis as a result of the “current rate of diabetes and obesity”.

The announcement came on World Diabetes Day, celebrated on November 14th, on the symposium, to be held on January 15th and 16th in 2018.

Two separate sessions will be held for health care providers and one for the general public on January 16th from 6:30pm to 8pm.

According to the most recent figures contained in ‘Steps to a Well Bermuda (2014)’, “one in three” adults in Bermuda is obese, and the “one in three”, or 35 percent of adults “have chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease”. Another 8.5 percent of adults aged 18 years and older had diabetes. It was also noted that Obesity and Type 2 diabetes are linked.

A Ministry spokeswoman said: “Diabetes is a disabling condition that can have fatal consequences. Associated problems include the early onset of blindness, kidney failure, damage to circulation and nerves in the legs that can lead to amputation, circulatory problems, heart disease and stroke.

“Bermuda has one of the highest amputation rate per capita in the world, as shown in the Health in Review report, whose updated edition will be published shortly.

“It is commonly accepted that there are many additional undiagnosed cases of diabetes. In fact, in a recent Ministry of Health initiative called ‘Taking it to the Streets’, our community health nurses surveyed 361 people and sent 126, or about one-third, for further medical assessment. This requirement for further assessment was a surprise to many of those who drooped by the five free events. Further testing was due to high blood pressure and high blood sugar readings.”

It was also noted that in 2015, diabetes was the direct cause of 1.6 million deaths globally. The number of people with Type 2 diabetes is increasing in every country. “Bermuda is no different,” the spokeswoman said.

“The link between obesity and Type 2 diabetes is well established. When you consider that one in three of us is obese, reducing the incidence of obesity is a national priority.

“Obesity, and the lifestyle choices that cause it, lead to the early onset of preventable diseases. Diabetes is just one. There is now evidence that connects obesity to 13 different kinds of cancer.

“These non-communicable diseases bear a terrible burden on those afflicted, on their families, and they are expensive to treat. Estimates by the Bermuda Health Council indicate that, based in health insurance claims alone, obesity and diabetes will add over $26 million to our Island’s health costs over the next ten years. This is just the direct cost of medical care and does not include indirect costs, like the impact on other conditions, out of pocket payments, subsidies, wages and work hours lost,” she said.

“Those indirect costs are part of the larger health economic impact. Bermuda can’t afford this. Our future prosperity depends on reducing this trend because sick people can’t work or study, and become an economic burden rather than productive members of society.”

Health Minister Kim Wilson said: “The Throne Speech 2017 highlighted my Ministry’s commitment to health and wellness. In partnership with broader community organizations who espouse wellness. there is considerable effort and energy behind accomplishing the reversal of the current trends in diabetes and obesity.”

She also extender her “sincere thanks to all our Well Bermuda partners” who are working with government to achieve this goal,” said Minister Wilson.

“The Ministry is determined to reduce our healthcare costs, and our waistlines, for the better health of our community.

  • Photos Courtesy of DCI