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"Every ten seconds a person living with diabetes dies according to the world statistics, what indicates its an epidemic" stated doctor Antonio Márquez Guillén, president of the organizing committee for the 13th Congress of the Latin American Diabetes Association (ALAD) scheduled to take place in Havana, November 12 - 16.

In fact it has become into a health problem due to the dramatic rise in the number of cases diagnosed; so far 246 million people, of them 16,2 millions live in Latin America and the Caribbean region. This figure will double by 2025.

Diabetes occurs when the body fails to either produce enough or any of the hormone insulin or when the insulin (sugar) produced doesnt work effectively, what brings about devastating human, social and economic effects.

The discovery of the insulin is therefore considered as one of the greatest medical achievements in the 20th century. From then on, its therapeutic use, diabetes stopped being a mortal disease to become a chronic but controllable aliment.

"However both diabetes itself and pre-diabetes may develop into cardiovascular disorders" said Doctor Márquez Guillén, and added that the major causes are; increasing age, obesity and physical inactivity.

"Therefore education, information and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits help to stop risk factors that increase a person's chance of getting a disease. In doing simple physical exercises such as walking, sedentary living - a major underlying cause of death, disease, and disability - disappears".

- Which are the diabetes symptoms?

- Frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, increased fatigue, skin ulcers or bruise that heal slowly, dry skin and sensation of pins and needles in the extremities, irritability, blurry vision, unusual tiredness or sleepiness, skin, gum, bladder, vagina frequent infections. If you have one or more of these symptoms you are at risk for diabetes.

"Diabetes cannot be cured but risks for diabetes can be reduced by doing physical exercises, making healthy food choices, keeping body weight control and following medical advises".

- Which are the major population sectors in danger of getting diabetes in Cuba?

- This disease is much more frequent in above 45-year-old women living in urban areas. However, many ignore they have the disease and when detected, vascular complications appear due to a late diagnosis.

- To what extent an earlier diagnosis is important?

-As a chronic deteriorating disease, diabetes can cause death if medical care is not observed. Endocrinologists, nephrologists and cardiologists should not only get involved in this problem but the whole community should support the cause.

"If theres no timely treatment, cardio-vascular disorders, kidney failure, blindness and foot amputations are just some of the typical diabetes consequences".

"Cuba has 375 000 diagnosed diabetics under treatment, that is, 3,3 % of the population. But the current trend indicates the figure has doubled for the past 20 years. Diabetes accounts for the eighth cause of death in the country. This year, it amounts to 18,2 in every 100 000 inhabitants.

"The strategy of the Ministry of Public Health goes far beyond raising awareness about the ways of prevention.

"It develops what we call an active inquiry applied nationally. The Diabetes Care Network Diagnostic and Treatment Centre is currently under finishing construction works. Whereas the health institution provides the staff with upgrading and training courses on managing most advanced techniques and equipment, tools to measure quality of life in people with diabetes.

"The World Diabetes Day project is six years now focused on promoting international campaigns and raising awareness of the impact of the disease on earth. This November 14 will call on over 130 member countries of the Diabetes Foundation that will commemorate the date with a massive walk for the bitter sweet epidemic".

Source: By Maritza Mariana, CubaSi

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