Medical Corner

image-thumb.pngWe have accepted the suggestion from a BU family member to facilitate discussion on medical matters which is a topic area that should interest us all. Based on exchanges with and between BU family members posted over time, many of you work in the medical field or possess information on various medical issues acquired based on personal circumstance or otherwise. Medical Corner seeks to encourage ANYONE to submit views on medical experiences, new developments in the industry or any related matter which readers feel can serve to educate the BU family.

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344 thoughts on “Medical Corner

  1. Bajans urged to focus on NCDs too
    Cancer Support Services is encouraging Barbadians to take better care of themselves amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
    Yesterday, registered nurse Mutual Archer, who has been working with the organisation for several years, said some were focusing only on protecting themselves against the viral illness and neglecting other health concerns.
    “I find that we have been concentrating so much on COVID-19, which is important, but we have been neglecting other aspects of public health care like high blood pressure, strokes and diabetes,” he said.
    “We had 274 persons dying in 2021 from COVID-19 but if you look at the numbers associated with those dying from other illnesses (noncommunicable diseases), it is a small percentage. So we need to refocus; we cannot neglect the other issues.”
    Archer said comorbidities such as non-communicable diseases also put individuals at high risk of contracting the virus, adding that if these illnesses were better controlled, the number of people who die from COVID-19 would be reduced as their bodies would be better able to fight the disease.
    More than 100 men were screened at Cancer Support Services headquarters in Dayrells Road, Christ Church and Archer said many more younger men, those in their 40s, 50s and 60s, were taking part in the programme.
    He said he was pleased with this development.
    Founder of the organisation and executive director Jan Linton thanked corporate Barbados for partnering with them and helping them provide health care services to the community. (SB)

    Source: Nation

  2. Doctors make prostate cancer breakthrough

    By Sherrylyn Toppin

    Medical practitioners in Barbados believe they have made a major breakthrough in the early detection of prostate cancer, the most common on the island, which also accounts for the highest number of cancer deaths annually.
    They can now “predict” who is likely to develop the disease even if there are no signs or symptoms and there is a negative Prostatic Specific Antigen (PSA) test, based on a newly discovered DNA molecular signature specific to prostate cancer, that can be detected from a drop of blood.
    These are the preliminary findings from a study conducted by the Barbados Cancer Society and the Massachusetts-based Yale University and Wren Laboratories.
    The study, which was done between 2020 and 2021 comprised 554 men and is believed to be the largest in the world on men of African descent. Similar studies were done on a smaller scale in the United States and Europe.
    Acting president of the Barbados Cancer Society, Professor R. David Rosin, a surgical oncologist who has been working in Barbados since 2008, said this was a plus for the medical fraternity because the PSA was known to give both false positives and negatives.
    “With the molecular signature in the blood, because it is DNA-based, it is actually predicting that this person, this man, will, if he hasn’t got it now, get prostate cancer,” Rosin said.
    The prostate cancer molecular structure was detected in 80 of the men, but they already knew 20 of them had the disease.
    “Sixty of them had a negative PSA, but a positive molecular signature. These men are going to get prostate cancer,” he explained.
    “The other great advantage is if you have prostate cancer, you can then monitor it. It can also show you the aggressive type. PSA doesn’t tell you any more than you may have prostate cancer. This is going to tell you ‘you have prostate cancer or you are going to get it and it may be non-aggressive or aggressive’, because the treatments would be very different.”
    Rosin, a former president of the British Association of Surgical Oncologists and founder president of the Caribbean Society of Endoscopic Surgeons, said they would continue to monitor the 60 men. They will be retested every three months and
    although the test is expensive, Wren Laboratories has agreed to do it for free.
    But even with information, he said there was no way to delay the inevitable.
    “We are really concentrating on the earliest possible finding of that cancer,” he said, adding that this would allow them to do an MRI to look for the spot where the cells may be metastasising. This could then be treated without surgery by ultrasound ablations, for example.
    Rosin, an honorary professor in the University of the West Indies Medical Faculty in Barbados, said prostate cancer was the most common in the country, accounting for more than 300 new cases each year and just over 100 deaths. Colorectal cancer was second and breast cancer third. The numbers are “very small” for paediatric cancer.
    Barbados has approximately 1 200 new cancer cases and more than 700 deaths each year.

    Source: Nation

  3. Backlog at QEH
    Waiting list for cataract ops, CT scans calls for ‘urgent action’
    THERE IS A BACKLOG of 700 people for cataract surgeries and a waiting list of 1 800 people seeking CT scans at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).
    This was revealed by Minister of Health Ian Gooding-Edghill yesterday in the House of Assembly, noting that the situation warranted urgent action.
    “I’ve already signalled to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital that overdue surgeries will have to be brought up to date. To this end we’re devising plans on how to address and reduce this backlog,” the Minister stated.
    Part of the solution on the cataract issue is greater collaboration with Cuba where a number of Barbadians have received vision changing surgeries in the past. In addition, said Gooding-Edghill, the out-of-use Lions Eye Centre must be put back into operation to help those who cannot afford private eye surgeries.
    He said the hospital, which will be a primary focus of his ministry, must have a revised monthly report on the situation in order to measure progress.
    “We are reviewing options to come up with a quick and satisfactory solution. The overall objective of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is now executing with precision, driven by results,” Gooding-Edghill said, in relation to the outstanding CT scans.
    Systems lacking
    Executive chairman of the QEH Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland, who was also present during the sitting, conceded that there were no adequate systems for measuring performances in relation
    to what led to the backlog.
    “We don’t have an adequate system for measuring the reasons and the delays for surgeries. We are going to be entering into a special project where we are going to survey, over a period of time, the reason for the actual delays in surgeries.
    “Some of them will be late arrival of surgeons, some of them will be late arrival of patients from the ward, some of them will be the turnaround time between cases, some of them may be other internal inefficiencies. Once we are able to target and identify the exact causes we are then able to talk to individual surgeons, talk to individual teams with precise data on what has happened and move beyond the issue of anecdote to the actual issue of performance based management,” she said.
    Meantime, the Minister pointed out that COVID-19 had in two years led to a paradigm shift in the governance and management of health care adding that for the upcoming financial year, there would be a return to the management of the non COVID-19 healthcare sector.
    As he took part in the debate on the Appropriation Bill, 2022 – Head 86 Ministry of Health and Wellness, Gooding-Edghill said the capital expenditure plan of the QEH would include putting back into operation all 12 operating theatres rather than the nine now functioning.
    “As we move away from lockdowns and restricted movement to purposeful and progressive opening of our economy, we expect that expenditure will return to pre COVID-19 levels . . . The Ministry of Health and Wellness will transition from a COVID centred health care response to one that embraces all aspects of health care,” he said.
    The focus, he said, would also include environmental and mental health; reform, access to essential pharmaceuticals and HIV vaccines, climate change and disaster and non-communicable diseases. There will also be a greater effort made towards the elderly and persons with noncommunicable diseases.
    “However, our mandate does not stop there. We will be forging forward by providing better working
    conditions in terms of engagement for nurses, doctors, supporting and ancillary staff. We’ve listened to the concerns of the nurses through their respective trade unions and have already taken proactive steps, including appointments, payment of overtime and better physical working conditions,” the minister said.
    Gooding-Edghill stated that in a revenue constraining environment he would be requiring all heads of departments to pay close attention to how funds are used and allocated in the managing of the healthcare system.

    Source: Nation

  4. Regulation of ‘sweet drinks’ in schools going to Cabinet

    By Colville Mounsey colvillemounsey@nationnews. com

    As the debate rages on as to whether Government’s 20 per cent tax on sugarsweetened beverages will hurt the manufacturing sector, there are plans for the regulation, marketing, and sales of these drinks in schools.
    This is according to policy advisor to the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, Nicole Foster, who disclosed that based on consultations with Government on a school nutrition policy, the commitment has been given to follow through with this undertaking this year.
    The Sunday Sun reached out to Chief Education Officer Dr Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, who confirmed that the final draft of the policy is set to be taken to Cabinet for approval. She said the initiative was being established mainly through the Ministry of Health and Wellness, noting she would be in a position to divulge more details once it is approved by Government.
    More initiatives needed
    Foster, who is also the Deputy Dean at the Faculty of Law at the UWI, Cave Hill Campus, said while the tax was now at a level that would impact the consumption of sweetened drinks in Barbados, more initiatives were needed.
    “There is no one policy that is going to be the silver bullet that solves this problem because it is a multi-factoral and complex problem. So ideally what you want to see is a package of evidence-based solutions that support each other and would then increase your impact and long-term success. Public health advocates have been in discussion with Government in terms of a school nutrition policy and our understanding is that the regulation of these drinks in schools is on the cards,” Foster said.
    She made it clear that she had not seen the final draft of the policy and therefore was in no position to state the format of the regulation. She explained that, based on the examples of the policy in other countries, the measure could range from a cutting down of the sugar put in the drinks, to a total removal of the beverages from the school environment altogether.
    She added: “We want to address the problem in a holistic way and sugarsweetened beverages are a big part of our problem, and we know that our children consume a significant amount of these drinks during the week at school. Our understanding is that the school nutrition policy is at an advanced stage and will hopefully be rolled out very shortly and our expectation is that as part of that policy we will see the regulation of sugar-sweetened beverages. It has been a long wait, but we remain cautiously optimistic that the Government will follow through in
    its commitment to implementing this measure as a matter of urgency.”
    Foster pointed out that other territories such as Jamaica, Trinidad, Bahamas and Grenada have already taken that step and based on the data and evidence from the World Health Organisation (WHO), this measure had some success.
    “Our understanding is that the approach is going to be holistic because it is not just sugar-sweetened beverages alone that needs to be addressed, but if nothing else, we need the sweet drinks to be dealt with based on the high level of consumption,” Foster said.
    However, the public health advocate did not stop there as she revealed that plans were in the pipeline to push for front-of-pack warning labels, as well as support for agriculture to ensure that fresh fruits and vegetables are more affordable.
    “Thankfully, Barbados is one of the countries that did soundly support these types of labels on pre-packaged foods to help persons make more informed choices about what they are eating and drinking. The information provided on these labels is accurate, it is easy and it is quick. A number of countries in Latin America have done a good job in implementing these measures, as well as a regulation of the types of ads placed during the peak time for kids watching television,” she said.

    Source: Nation

  5. Sir George backs sweet drink tax
    By Tony Best The decision by Government to double the tax on sweetened beverages has been described by Sir George Alleyne as a step in the right direction.
    “I am absolutely delighted that the Barbados government has decided to take this step because there is incontrovertible evidence that the consumption of sugary drinks contributes to the obesity in children,” said Sir George, a Barbadian and a former Director of the Pan American Health Organisation.
    “Everything that could possibly be done to reduce the consumption of these high calorie beverages is a step in the right direction, absolutely” he added.
    Sir George said there was a raft of measures” which could also be undertaken to grapple with the problem of obesity and “among them is educating children about what constitutes” dangers to their health, said the former professor of medicine at The University of the West Indies (UWI) who later became Chancellor of the preeminent tertiary level Caribbean educational institution with campuses in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and the Eastern Caribbean.
    “A couple of years ago, I sat on the World Health Organisation (WHO) Commission on childhood obesity and we made a series of recommendations for addressing the problem. One of them, front and centre was taxation on sugar sweetened beverages. Another, of course, was education in schools. You want to educate children about what constitutes a healthy diet and weight.”
    Sir George said there was a universal concern about obesity in children.
    “It is not simply a concern about obesity but the increasing rate of obesity. In one of my graduation addresses to UWI students I made the point that all governments are signatories to the rights of the child and I pointed out that to allow children to become obese is an abrogation of their rights. That’s why I believe what has been done in Barbados is a step in the right direction that must be followed by other measures,” he said.
    Effective Friday, the excise tax on sweet drinks will jump from ten per cent to 20 per cent and in announcing the measure, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley told the House of Assembly that the consumption of foods with high sugar and salt content was undermining Barbados’ – fight against chronic non-communicable
    diseases (NCDs), which range from cancer, heart disease and hypertension to diabetes.
    Mottley put Bajans on notice that the administration intended to undertake a mid-year review of the specific budgetary and health care move.
    Sir George said there was a long list of countries which belong to the United Nations that were now taxing sugar sweetened soft drinks to reduce consumption. Among them were France, the United States Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Britain and Qatar.
    Happy with move
    “It is of global concern and I am delighted Barbados has taken the step to increase the tax,” he added.
    In expressing his support, Sir George said the move was necessary and important to the fight against NCDs which were the leading causes of death in the country.
    Another key supporter of the action was Sir Trevor Hassell, President of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition. He said that “from a public health perspective, the tax is an excellent initiative, and one that not only do I support professionally, but it is an initiative that the national NCD Commission, the George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre and many of the leading non-governmental health organisations have been advocating for and working towards for many years.”
    WHO’s Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also joined the chorus, praising Barbados for acting on the issue and expressed the hope that more countries would follow suit.
    Dr Lynda Williams who heads the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners said “taxes on sugar sweetened beverages have been shown to decrease consumption in many countries around the world.”

    Source: Nation

    Doc: 90% of people heading to hospital with cardiac attacks have hypertension and 75 per cent diabetes
    Stories by Carlos Atwell
    Barbados is on an unsustainable path with non-communicable diseases (NCDs), but according to lead researcher with the Barbados National Registry for NCDs, Dr Natasha Sobers, it is not yet at the point of no return.
    “If we continue as we are, with no changes, it would be an unsustainable path. We simply can’t continue this way. But with policy changes, with a changed environment and people changing their mindsets, we have the opportunity to decrease our NCD mortality rate. It’s been done in other places and I see absolutely no reason why it can’t be done here,” she told the Sunday Sun.
    Sobers, who is also a senior lecturer in epidemiology at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), said this turnaround could start in as little as five years where obesity and diabetic numbers would first stop increasing, and then start decreasing in ten years. It was youth which gave her hope.
    “I see and am very hopeful about a cohort of young people who want to live a healthier life. Now that we’re doing a lot of work in schools with nutrition polices, children are more aware and are telling their parents they want to drink more water and how to do this or that to live healthier,” she said.
    In sharing the current outlook of NCDs in Barbados, Sobers said official records at the registry were only kept up to 2019 for cardiovascular disease and up to 2015 for cancers. The data for 2020 was almost compiled but was similar to 2019 anyway, she stated, adding they did not have any information during the worst of the pandemic as yet, in 2021.
    However, she said anecdotal evidence showed there had been a noticeable increase in heart attack cases over the past five years, and what was troubling was the ages of those dying from it, in particular men.
    “The peak age where we are seeing heart attacks for men has actually moved in 2018 from the 75-84 to the 65-74 age group, which is not a good trend as this means people are dying prematurely from heart attacks while still in the prime of their lives,” she said.
    The researcher said women were being diagnosed with heart disease at a later age but even so, this still placed health care system. majority of cases of unhealthy lifestyles.
    “Ninety per cent persons who go into with a heart attack hypertension and them have diabetes, an overlap. When deaths, people with three times more a heart attack while hypertension are to die,” she said.
    Sobers said 78 over the age 65 were with hypertension, single most important for a heart attack. Barbadians, especially to see a physician screened for NCDs age, and to do their healthy and exercise.
    Dr Kenneth Connell, a burden on the system. She said the cases were as a result lifestyles. cent of the into the hospital attack also have and 75 per cent of diabetes, so there is When you look at the with diabetes are more likely to die from while those with are twice as likely said.
    78 per cent of those were suffering hypertension, which was the important risk factor attack. She urged especially men, physician and get NCDs after a certain their best to eat exercise.
    Connell, deputy dean of the Faculty of Medicine at UWI Cave Hill,
    said there was no daily dashboard for strokes and heart attacks like there was for COVID-19, but the numbers were even more startling.
    “I can tell you that over the last 20 years our main burden coming through the emergency room is heart failure as a direct result of uncontrolled hypertension and diabetes.
    Stroke victims are getting younger. Heart attacks, I would see once a week when I was a student, are now happening three and four times a night, with new stroke victims every few hours,” he said.

    Source: Nation

    The following was compiled from the Barbados National Registry for NCDs, the International Diabetes Federation and the 2015 Health Of The Nation study:

    Diabetes affects between 18 and 24 per cent of Barbadians, increasing to 46.5 per cent of those over 65 years.

    About 43 per cent of beds at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital are taken up by people living with diabetes.
    • One in every four Barbadians has either diabetes or hypertension.

    Forty-three per cent of adult women in Barbados are obese and 67 per cent physically inactive.

    In 2019, there were 547 people with heart attacks. The in-hospital case fatality rate was 25 per cent, high in comparison to other countries.

    There were 758 stroke cases registered in 2019. The in-hospital case fatality rate was 37 per cent.
    • Around 260 new patients are referred to the outpatient clinic every month.
    • NCDs take up 70 per cent of the Barbados Drug Service’s budget.

    The World Health Organisation predicts by 2030, 86 per cent of the Barbadian population will die from NCDs and many prematurely, as in by age 70 or younger.

    • Take control of your health, Bajans urged
      The Barbados Diabetes Foundation wants Barbadians to take their health into their own hands.
      Dr Diane Brathwaite, clinical director at The Maria Holder Diabetes Centre for The Caribbean, which is operated by the foundation, said it was imperative for those diagnosed with a noncommunicable disease (NCD) to take control of their condition as early as possible to ensure the best quality of life.
      “Persons living with diabetes must be in the driver’s seat and must remain controlled from diagnosis. If your condition is uncontrolled, seek help, don’t wait any longer. So many people underscore the importance of nutrition and lifestyle, it is everything – whether you have Type 1 or 2 diabetes.
      “We at the centre work closely with care providers, the Ministry of Health and Wellness and other organisations to support the best care and we want people to understand that you do not have to end up with a complication or die prematurely because of diabetes. But what you do matters,” she implored.
      Dire future
      Brathwaite said the future looked dire should Barbadians not take a stand now.
      “NCDs are the main cause of adult death and the World Health Organisation predicts that 86 per cent of the Barbadian population will die, many prematurely (by age 70 or earlier), from NCDs by 2030. We desperately do not want that to be our reality. We, therefore, support the 20 per cent sugar tax and all other measures to reduce the impact of our high-calorie, high-sugar, high-fat, high-ultra-processed foods diets,” she told the Sunday Sun.
      “Parents, your children do not need daily treats and sugary beverages. They need good nutrition, ‘real natural food’ and physical activity. Barbados must invest and make changes for Barbadians based on our reality. Marketing and manufacturing agencies need to get more creative to support our health needs. There is so much potential and opportunities for growth and development.”

      Source: Nation

    • T&T said to be NCD capital of the world
      Trinidad and Tobago is the noncommunicable disease (NCD) capital of the world, says its health minister.
      During the opening ceremony of the Caribbean Public Health Agency Chief Medical Officers COVID-19 Meeting in Trinidad last week, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh highlighted the ongoing war the twin-island state was waging against what he called the “silent pandemic”, adding most of the recorded deaths due to COVID-19 were people with comorbidities.
      “We are an unhealthy nation and the burden of diseases like diabetes and hypertension, heart disease and cancers, proved itself during COVID-19. For years, this region has been fiercely battling the silent pandemic called NCDs.
      “To date, of the more than 3 000 souls here who have died from the virus, 83 per cent of them had comorbidities. Think about how many lives could have been saved if just 20 per cent of
      those persons either knew their condition or were dealing with it properly,” he said.
      The minister revealed many of those diagnosed with COVID-19 in his country were unaware they were also suffering with diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, while others knew they had an NCD, yet refused to take their medications.
      He said they were addressing this with the recent hiring of an NCD director who will be driving the national NCD policy and chairing their recently established National Food Advisory Committee.

      Source: Nation



    By Barry Alleyne

    Still irked by this country’s moniker as the amputation capital of the world, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley yesterday vowed to do all in her power to reverse the trend of diabetic sufferers.
    Moments after touring a new treatment centre within the Maria Holder Diabetes Centre For The Caribbean, Mottley said she would make all resources and finances at her disposal available to have Barbados as an example to the world, where significantly more Barbadians do not lose their limbs due to the complications associated with diabetes.
    She already has an ally. Director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said he would have discussions with the Prime Minister as a matter of urgency to see how the Diabetes Centre could get financial and logistical support from the world body.
    Mottley, Ghebreyesus, Minister of Health Ian Gooding-Edghill, Chief Medical Officer The Most Honourable Dr Kenneth George and Minister of State in the Ministry of Health Dr Sonia Browne toured the new treatment area at the centre located at Warrens, St Michael.
    The centre is now the country’s main treatment facility for those diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, with all patients who present at polyclinics with the non-communicable disease (NCD) being referred there.
    “I’ve seen the difference this centre makes to the lives of Barbadians,” Mottley said after the tour. “But I’m not satisfied we are reaching enough of our people. We need champions out there to help change the behaviour. That’s why I make no apology for the action taken in the Budget regarding the tax on soft drinks. No one is telling you not to drink any, but everything is to be done in moderation,” she said about the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
    Plea to Bajans
    The Prime Minister also urged Barbadians to take stock of their lives and control their health by looking at their meal sizes and taking action through exercise. “All reckless behaviour has consequences. I want to see more Barbadians helping themselves in this fight.”
    Christopher Holder, whose mother Maria helped bring to fruition the vision of the centre’s first leader, Dr Oscar Jordan, said his family would
    continue to play an integral role in the treatment of NCDs in the region, and thanked the Mottley administration for continuing to support the facility.
    Saying he, too, was concerned about the level of amputations in Barbados, Holder called on more people to get involved in the speciality of podiatry since work at the centre had shown that early intervention and specialised care had led to an 80 per cent success rate in treating foot-related problems that usually accompany dialysis.
    Ghebreyesus, on a three-day tour of Barbados, said he was impressed by such a facility since it could lead to the entire region fighting the battle so many countries are failing to wrestle to the ground.
    “This is an inspirational model from which other countries can learn,” he said, while noting that so many other countries in the world did not have access to daily quantities of insulin, the most important drug needed to help control blood glucose levels.
    “This a very strong commitment that has been made by your Government,” he said to Mottley, while confirming it was only fair that the WHO also seek ways to help facilitate the enhancement of programmes and services which the centre could provide.
    The Prime Minister noted that outside of the financial support of Government to the centre, she was hoping the country’s programme which allows nurses to make house-to-house visits to help diagnose and treat diabetes would be ramped up in the coming months.

    Source: Nation

  10. UWI plans diabetes reversal project

    THE UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES (UWI) is planning a diabetes reversal project as a major feature of the new facility intended for the former site of the St Joseph Hospital after the university assumes full control of the property.
    Government recently vested the Ashton Hall, St Peter property in The UWI, in a special purpose vehicle in which the university holds 75 per cent ownership while Government owns the remaining 25 per cent.
    Principal and pro vice-chancellor of The UWI Cave Hill Campus Professor Clive Landis has disclosed that the university was looking to set up a diabetes reversal clinic as a major feature of the proposed new facility and is also in the process of developing a programme and products to be used in the reversal process.
    Health tourism
    “When we eventually develop the land at St Joseph, we are looking to set up a health tourism clinic where people would come in and we have this expertise in reversing diabetes,” Landis said in an interview with the MIDWEEK NATION.
    The concept is based on a study done in Britain by Newcastle University Professor Roy Taylor and a team, which showed remission from Type 2 diabetes was possible for people with lower body mass indices. Taylor was brought to Barbados in 2015 to speak about how diabetes could be reversed, in light of the alarming incidence of the condition here.
    Landis said based on Taylor’s findings, The UWI had subsequently produced papers showing that the Cave Hill, St Michael facility could reverse diabetes through diet and weight loss. He noted that in the university’s case specifically, that it could be done “not only in a controlled setting using an imported controlled product in the form of a meal replacement shake . . . but we can do it using our own natural products and do it in a community setting, using plant-based product”.
    That aspect of the project he revealed, had reached
    the stage where prototypes (of the product) had been made adding the university was now looking to incorporate the company. He said there was “plenty of interest” in the project, with Invest Barbados and Export Barbados being “very supportive”.
    Landis said the programme was designed to be conducted over three months, allowing six weeks to reverse the diabetes and another six weeks “to reboot your life and educate yourself on a healthy lifestyle”.
    The St Joseph Hospital, founded in 1966 by the Roman Catholic Church, was closed by a Barbados Labour Party-led Government in 1986; renovated and reopened by a Democratic Labour Party Government following a subsequent change in administration. It was closed again in 1995 after the BLP returned to power.
    In January 2012, it was announced the entire hospital was to be leased to overseas investors Denver, Colorado-based American World Clinics, for the purpose of medical tourism, under a 25-year lease.
    That lease was rescinded by Parliament last month, making way for the vesting of the property in the university.

    Source: Nation

  11. Research in pigs shakes up what we know about dying

    Katie Hunt
    By Katie Hunt, CNN
    Updated 3:51 PM EDT, Wed August 3, 2022


    Researchers at Yale University say they have been able to restore blood circulation and other cellular functions in pigs a full hour after the animals’ deaths, suggesting that cells don’t die as quickly as scientists had assumed.

    With more research, the cutting-edge technique could someday potentially help preserve human organs for longer, allowing more people to receive transplants.

    The researchers used a system they developed called OrganEx which enables oxygen to be recirculated throughout a dead pig’s body, preserving cells and some organs after a cardiac arrest.

    “These cells are functioning hours after they should not be,” said Dr. Nenad Sestan, the Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor of Neuroscience and professor of comparative medicine, genetics and psychiatry at Yale, who led the study.

    “And what this tells us is that the demise of cells can be halted. And their functionality restored in multiple vital organs. Even one hour after death,” he told a news briefing.

  12. Stroke victims ‘getting younger’
    Barbadians are once again being urged to lead healthy lifestyles to reduce the risk of heart diseases and non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
    Medical director of the Cardiac Disease Prevention and Rehabilitation Programme of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados (HSFB), Dr Dawn Scantlebury made the appeal at yesterday’s HSFB pop-up showcase at the Ann Gill Memorial Methodist Church, Fairfield, St Michael in celebration of World Stroke Day.
    “The age at which that first stroke occurs is getting younger so typically you’ll think of a stroke occurring in someone in their 70s and 80s and now we’re looking at 60s to 70s as the peak age for stroke . . . so the top eight things that you can do to reduce your risk of stroke, is to look at your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. Stop smoking or don’t start smoking, eat healthily, increase your physical activity and maintain a healthy weight,” she said.
    Her final tip was for people to sleep more because lack of sleep had been proven to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
    Scantlebury, who is also a cardiologist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said heart diseases were the main cause of death worldwide according to the Barbados National Registry for Chronic Non-Communicable Disease.
    “When we speak of cardiovascular disease, we speak of heart disease and blood vessel disease and stroke is a blood vessel disease. So when you look at the world statistics for death- ischemic heart disease, where you have a blocked blood vessel to the heart, it’s the number one cause of death and stroke. So the Heart and Stroke Foundation,
    we are here to raise awareness, educate our community and advocate lifestyles and policies within the country that reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease and reduce the burden on our healthcare system,” she said.
    She expressed concern about the possible fallout from Barbadians neglecting their health during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    “What we saw on the ground at the hospital and in rehab is that patients were fearful of going to the hospital, going to rehab, etc. So I am now fearful of what we will see in the months and years to come as far as the complications of heart attacks and strokes and other NCDs that may not have been as adequately addressed during COVID,” she added.
    Physiotherapist Erica Cooper, who was also a speaker at the event informed about the steps individuals would need to take to regain mobility and resume activities they did before a stroke. She said it was important for the doctors and the physiotherapist to communicate so the patient received the best possible outcome.

    Source: Nation

  13. How diabetes nearly killed me
    THERE I WAS, a beautiful specimen of the negro race, striding through the airport in Arizona bound for Georgia, then Montego Bay, Jamaica, then home to Barbados. I was in my late 50s and felt like I could still take a rugby tackle. I had a cup of coffee and heard the call that they were ready to board.
    I took my seat in business class, sitting beside a friendly gentleman who said hello, and the plane took off. We had reached 36 000 feet when the air hostess offered those in business class a concoction of orange juice and champagne, which I took.
    I probably had not taken more than two swallows when I felt like I wanted to vomit. I reached for the vomit bag and passed out, vomited and peed myself.
    When next I regained consciousness, I was lying on the floor between the trolleys of the air hostesses and a lady was holding my hand and people were telling her: “Don’t let him bite his tongue.”
    I was fully alert now, and I heard the captain of the plane saying: “Sorry, folks. We have a medical emergency on board and we have to turn back.”
    I felt good now, (the lady holding my hand had an engaging smile) and I said: “It is not necessary to turn back, I am all right now.”
    Of course, the decision to turn back was made and an ambulance met the plane on the tarmac and I was carted off to the nearest hospital.
    Insurance papers
    Being someone who was always in the air travelling, I had on me the necessary insurance credentials for hospital treatment.
    I soon saw the doctor who had his report from the nurses who had attended to me earlier and he greeted me with a smile and these words that I will never forget: “Young man, you are diabetic.”
    Me, in my 50s, diabetic. So the doctor put me on medication.
    I, being a quack doctor, never believed the doctor. I figured that passing out on the plane was due to the constant blows I had sustained on the right of my neck from playing rugby and which were impeding the blood flow, something that had happened before. Not stupid diabetes; that is for old people. After a while I stopped taking the medication.
    Some months later I was at the gate of my home making a phone call when, suddenly, I found that I could not talk.
    Somehow, I managed to get through to my second son, who is a doctor. He immediately called my first son, who is also a doctor.
    The second son was working at the hospital and was told by the other one to get me to the hospital as quickly as possible. By the time I reached the hospital, I was met by a cadre of doctors whom my sons had called, and treatment started.
    Mild stroke
    It got worse. While I was diagnosed as having had a mild stroke, the whole of my right side was numb. My son advised me not to give in to the numbness, but to try to activate whatever part did not seem to be working.
    Therapy ensued and exercises played a great part in rehabilitation. It took almost two years to believe what the doctor in Arizona had told me, an apparently healthy young man.
    At 84 minus one month I still realise that everything on my right side is weaker
    than my left, even my hair. I had to relearn how to play the pan. I do not read music but played by ear. So my apologies to my readers if sometimes there is a screw loose in my articles.
    One of the best things that our Prime Minister can do is pursue the research that Cuba seems to offer in the search for help with diabetes. Most people do not have the resources that were available to me. My sons watch me like hawks. They would like to stretch out the privilege of having me around as long as possible. This is probably because I did not share licks but gave lectures instead.
    Barbados is noted as the amputation capital of the Caribbean.
    Sir Hilary Beckles, in one of his lectures, attributed our susceptibility to diabetes and the fact that normal medications as prescribed for Europeans are not as effective on black people to the salt diet to which the slaves were condemned. You know that the Wild Coot’s mother made pudding and souse for sale for many years during his youth. Pudding and souse was the kind of diet that the slaves in Barbados liked. The present generation still likes the delicacy. They say, “What does not kill does fatten”.
    Harry Russell is a banker. Email quijote70@gmail. com.

    Source: Nation

  14. Trinidad records first case of Monkeypox virus

    Article by Published on
    July 12, 2023 Source: CMC – Trinidad and Tobago has recorded its first case of the Monkeypox virus with health authorities saying the patient is a middle-aged man with a history of international travel.

    The Ministry of Health said the man had been tested on Tuesday and that the sample was sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for further analysis. The test returned positive.The County Medical Officer of Health has since initiated a public health response including contact tracing as the ministry urged the public to remain vigilant to prevent the spread of the virus.The virus continues to circulate globally, with the World Health Organization’s update as of July 4 reporting 88,144 cases across 112 countries, with 149 deaths. It said the virus can cause illness that ranges from mild to severe and is primarily transmitted through close contact or respiratory droplets.Signs and symptoms include a skin rash or mucosal lesions lasting two-four weeks, accompanied by fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, and swollen lymph nodes.The authorities said that anyone with these symptoms must seek immediate medical attention at the nearest health facility, warning also that in order to prevent spread, members of the public must continue to maintain good hygiene practices such as regular hand-washing and sanitisation.

  15. Rotary launches NCDs project

    THE ROTARY CLUB OF BARBADOS is partnering with five corporate organisations in the fight against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Barbados.
    The organisation, in association with Ross University School of Medicine, Sagicor Life, Bayview Hospital, The Emergency Room and RioMed, announced the introduction of “Create Hope NCD Screening and Literacy Project” at a media launch in the Barbados Light & Power Company’s Conference Room on Monday.
    President of the Rotary Club of Barbados, Ermine Darroux-Francis, said the community project was intended to “scaleup communitybased screening, increase advocacy, raise awareness and sensitisation for NCD prevention and control, including childhood obesity”.
    She indicated the club was influenced to embark on the project after examining “alarming” statistics released by the George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre about a year ago, which showed that Barbados recorded “a very high rate of NCDs in the Caribbean region, averaging 10 heart attacks and 14 strokes per week”.
    The programme will see the mobilisation of a medical team visiting select communities over several months and voluntarily conducting screening through blood tests. Screening will, however, not be limited to people in the immediate community, but will also be open to anyone else who wants to take advantage of the opportunity.
    Hospital administrator for Bayview Hospital, Julie Reid, noted the prevalence of NCDs stemmed primarily from unhealthy habits and said many of the associated diseases were often diagnosed in their advanced stages due to limited access to testing within society.
    “Through the use of our health care information system Cellma by RioMed, which is seamlessly integrated with our hospital operations, we will gather essential data as we venture into the communities with our partners to conduct testing and provide general education,” Reid said. She added the goal was not only to quantify the prevalence of NCDs “but also to build a comprehensive, accurate and dependable database of actionable insights, enabling us to identify trends and contribute to a healthier future”. Speaking on behalf of Ross University School of Medicine, Associate Dean of Medical Sciences Dr Rhonda McIntyre said both students and faculty were looking forward to being “fully immersed” in the project, while the vicepresident, Health Group and Creditor Life Insurance, Sagicor Life, Susan Boyea asserted the insurance industry had “a responsibility to be champions of prevention by encouraging policyholders to adopt healthy preventative lifestyles”. Senior medical officer NCDs in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Dr Arthur Phillips commended Rotary’s initiative. He said while the health and economic challenges posed by NCDs were “formidable”, the combination of strengths, resources and expertise through partnerships would help to “effectively” tackle the problem. (GC)

    Source: Nation

  16. What is there to think about?



    By Marlon Madden

    Barbadians could have access to a basket of healthy food options at more affordable prices, although exactly when that will be is uncertain.
    Minister of Energy and Business Development Senator Lisa Cummins disclosed on Wednesday that the Government is working on lowering taxes on healthy foods, and one health advocate has suggested to Barbados TODAY that the price reductions for some of those selections should be in the 20 to 30 per cent range.
    Addressing the opening of the Barbados Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition (BCOP Coalition) workshop on The Pathway to Octagonal Front of Package Warning Labels on Wednesday at the Accra Beach Resort, Cummins said the time had come for a review of the tax structure on healthy foods.
    Declaring that the Government had a responsibility to incentivise residents to make better food choices, she said her ministry was committed to following through on recommendations from recent research that authorities “look at the cost structure, by way of taxes, for healthier items versus those things that were unhealthy”.
    “We are committed to also working with you to see what that healthy basket of goods looks like. We are committed to seeing with you how I could pay less for healthier items upfront as opposed to paying a surcharge for if I want to eat brown rice versus white rice, if I want to be able to eat things that are lean versus things that are cheap ,” said Cummins.
    In 2022, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados (HSFB) commissioned the study, led by Deputy Principal of the UWI, Cave Hill Campus Professor Winston Moore and Lecturer Dr Antonio Alleyne , to examine whether food prices were prohibitive to healthy eating and to recommend a policy approach to making healthy foods more affordable.
    It pointed to the high tariffs attached to food imports such as fresh vegetables and fruits, compared to the low taxes placed on items high in salt, sugar and fat, including cookies, ice cream and chips.
    It also illustrated that unhealthy foods, on average, carry an import tariff of 35 per cent, while healthy foods are taxed at around 45 per cent, and proposed that the Government flip the tax rates.
    Cummins did not commit to a timeline for completion of the tax review but she told the workshop participants that the Government was now considering the matter and that collaboration among stakeholders would be required.
    “We have to be able to make it affordable for people to eat healthy food. That is also an important part of the conversation. It is fine to label it, it is fine to say it is high in salt. Things like [packaged noodle soup], for example, which are incredibly popular are very high in salt, but they are inexpensive and easily accessible. We also have to make things which are healthier just as accessible, as we do things which are filling but are also going to result in cost a little later by way of the health system,” she explained.
    “So let us work together on that balancing act and also incentivising, in the first instance, people and consumers, to purchase healthier choices, not just by front of package labelling but by looking at the tax structure that is attached to those healthy products.”
    The proposal was immediately welcomed by health advocates who said they were willing to work with the Government in achieving lower prices on healthy food options.
    “The common complaint is that healthy eating is very expensive. Therefore, we will be working together and advising on the healthy basket of goods and I have a good feeling about this healthy basket of goods,” said lead policy champion with the HSFB and the BCOP Coalition Professor Anne St John.
    Chairman of the National Commission on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCNCD) and former BCOP Coalition chairman Suleiman Bulbulia expressed similar sentiments.
    “Whenever we promote a healthier lifestyle and healthier living, the complaint is that it is expensive to eat healthier. So review of a basket of goods that are considered healthy products, bringing the taxes down, will definitely go a long way in appeasing that concern,” he said.
    Bulbulia told Barbados TODAY he would recommend that officials look at a reduction of between 20 to 30 per cent on the basket of healthy food options.
    “Obviously we will have to work from product to product, but bringing down the cost by 20 to 30 per cent in some cases is going to be important for the consumer. But, of course, there is no fixed amount because it depends on the product,” he said.
    The NCNCD chairman added that the reduction in prices on healthier food products “is important for us because that reduces the opportunity for NCD because you are eating healthier and that helps in the battle against and prevention of NCDs”.
    (Please also see Page 6)

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