NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Eugene Thurston, director general for the Bahamas Diabetic Association said Thursday that more funding is needed to ensure that the organization does not collapse in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.
The association assists more than 35 people daily, and has been considered a safety net for hundreds of diabetics across the country.
Counselling, wellness programs and a 24/7 hotline are made available to each client.
However, Thurston said there has been a strain on supplies and resources with the recent influx of citizens from Abaco and Grand Bahama to Nassau.
“Diabetics are the ones who take up most of the bed space in the hospital,” Thurston said.
“They’re the ones responsible for most of the absenteeism on the job. So, this is an essential service that needs to be open.”
While the government does provide some financial support to the association, Thurston said that these funds are not enough to provide the services required.
“To run a place like this on a yearly basis successfully is around $200,000,” he said.
“When you come here, the services are free. If the services are closed down, it would be devastating for many persons who utilize these services.”
“So, I’m saying to corporate Bahamas, please help us. We are in dire straits. This is the worst it has ever been. We’re hoping that you [ corporate Bahamas] would step forward [because]we definitely don’t want to close the door after 32 years.”
Dr. Monique Mitchell, one of four podiatrists in the country and a partner of the diabetic association, said that because hospitals and clinics are often overcrowded, organizations like The Bahamas Diabetic Association must be protected at all costs.
“They provide preventive services,” Mitchell said.
“They put on programs for children. It would leave a great void [if they close down]. I believe there is room for improvement and the funding has really slowed them down, in terms of what they can do.
“Going to a private doctor could be anywhere from $150-$160 upward. We have a lot of complications from diabetes. Here in The Bahamas, we’ve seen around 1,000 amputations per year done at PMH (Princes Margaret Hospital).
Mitchell added: “If the Diabetics association is not here to provide prevention, we can expect those numbers to go up. We definitely need to step up to make sure these services continue to be provided.”
The Diabetics Association is located in suite #4 inside the Legacy Plaza, Prince Charles drive. All persons interested in reaching out are encouraged to contact Thurston at 809-7705.