Monday, November 10, 2008

Jamaica, Diabetes, and Its Youth

Jamaica's National Diabetes Week is this week, and its focus is on children and adolescents.

...the Ministry is taking a proactive approach to educating all children and their families about healthy food options and the importance of daily exercise, through various healthy lifestyle initiatives in schools and communities.

It is reported that 2 percent of those between 15 and 19 have been diagnosed with diabetes, but that the number could be as high as 17 percent. The story of Ryan Dwyer describes how being diagnosed with diabetes affected aspects of his social life and education:

"I woke up with two IVs in my arm and when I came to my senses the doctor told me I had diabetes," he said. "I started crying. I said diabetes is for old people like my grandmother and I am no where near being a grandfather."

For him, back then having diabetes was like a death sentence as he was discriminated against by his schoolmates.

"Nobody wanted to be my friend. I couldn't play the games that I wanted to play anymore," said Dwyer who is now a mixologist. "I got a separate chair in class and I had to write on the ground because I didn't have a desk."

This story made me think about how illness and disease is perceived so differently across cultures and communities. Diabetes is known to be a non-communicable disease. It seems strange that even at school a kid diagnosed with diabetes can be openly discriminated against. With a public stigma against the diagnosis, it's no wonder there is difficulty in finding out what the prevalence of diabetes is amongst teens there.

I did a Google search to try to find Chinese medical physicians in Jamaica, and only found two business listings: Daling Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion, and Shortwood Dental & Acupuncture Center, both in Kingston. According to the website for Anhui College of TCM in China, there is a TCM school in Jamaica called the Jamaican Cultural Center of Chinese Medicine, but I couldn't find a website for it.

No comments: