Mass testing for World Diabetes Day

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Over 60 pupils from the Greenbay Primary School School were among the more than 300 people who received free testing for diabetes and hypertension during the observation of World Diabetes Day.
The Ministry of Health and the Antigua and Barbuda Diabetes Association collaborated in holding the screening exercises recently in the St. John’s Vegetable and Craft markets where members of the public were invited to learn their status in relation to diabetes and hypertension, and how they could prevent and control the diseases.
“Women and Diabetes – Our right to a healthy future, put women in focus,” was the theme of this year’s observance. In this regard, Valarie Williams, non-communicable diseases coordinator in the Ministry of Health, said women at the markets were specifically chosen because of the long hours they spend on the job.
“Some of them don’t even get the time to have a proper meal, they don’t have time to go to the doctor or do any kind of physical exercise,” Williams said. She, however, noted that it was heartening to see men and pupils turn up and participated in the screening.
Body Mass Index (BMI), cholesterol and samples of healthier food options – chickpeas in turmeric sauce, spinach rice, gluten-free wrap, and smoothies, were made available for participants to sample.
 “We had some [people, who were tested] that we had to refer to the health centres for elevated blood sugar and pressure. Some of their blood pressures were high and we had to sit them down and find out what is going on, and we were able to identify issues they were facing that could have caused their pressure to be high,” she added.
The Medical Benefits Scheme (M.B.S) provided the testing supplies and collaborated with the ministry and the diabetes association. Nutritionists were also available to provide counselling.
Janelle Charles-Williams, marketing manager at M.B.S. said emphasising healthy meal options was a big push in the calendar that the M.B.S. will be distributing for 2018.
“Meals that are gluten-free and vegan, low salt breakfast options to make then hypertensive friendly, no-bake desserts, unsweetened desserts, child and heart-healthy snacks were on sample. The calendar is a resource for someone who wants to eat healthily,” Charles-Williams added.

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