Diabetes One of the Most Costly Health Conditions – NHF Head


Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Fund (NHF), Rae Barrett, has said that diabetes is one of the most costly health conditions in Jamaica.
He said that to date, the NHF has provided more than $351.8 million in drug subsidy for persons with diabetes and $44.5 million for supplies, which include syringes, lancets and test strips.
Mr. Barrett was speaking at the Diabetes Association of Jamaica’s (DAJ) foot care assistants graduation ceremony held on Monday (Nov.12) at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston.
Despite the cost, the Fund continues to assist persons with the condition and in collaboration with the private sector, has instituted a programme to provide diabetics with Glucometers free of charge for self monitoring.
In addition, Mr. Barrett disclosed that today, World Diabetes Day, “we shall be introducing another new subsidy for the A1C blood test, which is regarded as the gold standard for the monitoring and management of diabetes.”
The A1C test is a simple laboratory test that shows the average blood glucose level over the last three months in order to determine if the glucose level is within the normal range.
The CEO also noted that the Ministry of Health and Environment is working in close collaboration with the Fund to create better awareness about chronic diseases such as diabetes.
“The Ministry has set aside a clinic day entitled ‘Diabetic Day’ for diabetics at the Comprehensive Health Centre and they are moving towards streamlining diabetic days in all four regional health authorities across the island,” Mr. Barrett disclosed.
The diabetic day initiative is very comprehensive as it not only includes the clinical aspect but educational and nutritional inputs such as cooking demonstrations and exercise.
Commenting on the foot care assistants programme, which commenced last year, Mr. Barrett said that it will assist the Fund’s drive to reduce diabetes-related amputations. According to statistics from the Health Ministry, some 350 amputations related to diabetic complications were undertaken in public hospitals during 2003 to 2005.
“The impact of amputations on productivity is substantial as the individual spends a long time in hospital to ensure proper healing and requires extensive rehabilitation such as learning how to walk again, special shoes when toes are removed or using a wheelchair,” he informed.
The graduates, he noted, have an important role to play in educating the community about the disease as they are trained to deliver foot care treatment at the primary level for simple problems such as corns, calluses, blisters and ingrown toenails.
“Your role is to make a difference in screening for foot problems and referring patients for further treatment when needed, thereby reducing the risk of amputations and loss of life,” he told the graduates.
The NHF has invested $6.4 million in the DAJ’s foot care assistants training programme, from which 80 people have graduated, 50 of whom received certificates of completion on Monday.
Diabetes is one of the leading chronic illnesses in Jamaica and statistics indicate that more than 300,000 people have the disease, 50 per cent of whom are unaware of their condition.

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