Most Jamaicans can confirm that they have a relative or know someone with 'Suga'. 'Suga' or diabetes is a prevalent non-communicable or lifestyle disease. According to the World Health Organization's website, diabetes is 'a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces'. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar, and without it or without the effective use of it by the body, diabetes will occur. Type 1 diabetes is typically found in children and is caused by insulin deficiency. Type 2 diabetes is developed as a result of the body's ineffective use of insulin. It is important to note that this type of diabetes is mostly the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity.
When an individual is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, the person is typically put on medication to help lower the blood sugar. This is the case with many Jamaicans who have this type of diabetes. However, if one's diabetes is as a result of an improper diet, excess body weight and physical inactivity, can it not be reversed by a strict, healthy diet, exercise and trust in God, the Great Physician?
On Wednesday, February 26, 2020, the H.S. Walters Health Centre along with Dr Bongelo Gombele and friends, launched the first Diabetes Call Centre in Jamaica and the Caribbean and the Diabetes Reversal programme. Dr Gombele, a devout believer in the reversal of diabetes, has helped many individuals to reverse their diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes by placing them on a strict diet, exercise and careful monitoring of their blood sugar. Gombele, who works at the H.S. Walters Health Centre two days a week, during his presentation on diagnosing diabetes, noted that 'Diabetes is the leading cause of death in Jamaica, not gunshot, not H.I.V'.
The first patient to have reversed diabetes under the care of Dr Gombele, Vera Oliver, gave her experiences at the launch. At one time, Oliver weighed 240 pounds and was placed on diabetic medicines by another doctor. 'When I received the diet sheet, I was furious! I believed that Dr Gombele was crazy', noted Oliver. However, she said that when she started to abide by the diet sheet, her blood sugar readings lowered and was taken off medications gradually in February 2018. 'To date, that has been two years without one diabetic tablet...My main food now is lots of vegetables, quinoa, green bananas, ground provisions and brown rice occasionally. Sugar is a no-no, and I drink lots of water'. She also encouraged her son, who had borderline diabetes to follow the regime, and he has had lower readings.
Participants at the launch and seminar were also treated to various presentations on caring for various aspects of the body while having diabetes. Dr Mayanna Francis, Optometrist from the South-East Regional Health Authority, encouraged people with diabetes to continually check for the health of the eyes. 'The number 1 cause of blindness for persons ages 35 to 50 is diabetes'. She noted that all complications from diabetes could be prevented by education and blood sugar control. In the same manner, Dr Michelle Hamilton, Naturopathic Doctor and President of the network of Adventist Health Professionals admonished participants to protect their kidneys. She outlined the functions of the kidney and how diabetes affects the organs over time. She encouraged participants to stay hydrated, learn suitable coping mechanisms for stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Mrs Deon Henry, Health Ministries Director for the Central Jamaica Conference, urged individuals to put the knowledge gained into practice. Mrs Mary Cole, Manager for the H.S. Walters Health Centre, noted that she had expected only 60 individuals, but twice the number showed up to gain value from the presentations.
The Diabetes Reversal Programme and Call Centre will assist individuals in reversing, monitoring and controlling the effects of Type 2 diabetes. The launch also featured demonstrations on urinalysis and feeling the pedal pulse.