Diabetes Association exhibition highlights 100th anniversary of insulin

A part of a display on diabetes management at the national public library (Photo by Theresa Goodwin)
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By Theresa Goodwin

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A lead medical official is pointing out the importance of insulin in the management of diabetes, noting that the non-communicable disease was considered a death sentence without the vital hormone.

“Before the discovery of insulin in 1921, doctors use to depend on a harsh diet and some people even died of starvation in an effort to control their blood sugar,” said Medical Practitioner Dr Lester Simon.

Dr Simon was speaking at the launch of an exhibition at the National Public Library yesterday which was hosted by the Antigua and Barbuda Diabetes Association. The event forms part of the association’s annual week of activities to promote diabetes management and awareness.

The event is also viewed as historic as 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin by Frederick Banting.

President of the diabetes association Juanita James said the exhibition will be used to chronicle the journey of insulin, from its discovery years ago and what is occurring now.

According to James, while insulin is key to the management of diabetes, access to it is still a major factor for many people worldwide because of the cost associated with obtaining it.

“We are very fortunate in Antigua and Barbuda that we can access insulin without directly paying for it. We also have testing supplies and devices,” James said.

She added that years ago in Antigua, diabetic patients were afraid to inject themselves with insulin, and would instead depend on the district nurses to visit their homes on holidays and weekends to administer it.

Family members were eventually taught to administer the insulin after receiving a demonstration from health authorities.

Meanwhile, the week of activities continues today with community outreach project on the sister island, Barbuda.

Other activities include an education session via the Zoom platform Wednesday evening; public screening for diabetes on Thursday at the MBS headquarters on Nevis Street; a Walk for Diabetes on Saturday; and an educational session for public health professionals on Sunday November 14th.

While the week of activities is set to culminate this coming Sunday, the exhibition on insulin and monitoring of urine and blood glucose levels, will run for the entire month.

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