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Jul 16, 2020

Healthy Living: Advice for Diabetics

These days, life in Belize is as close to normal as it has been since March 2020. We are all still adjusting to face masks, social distancing and increased sanitization practices. Still, most of us are back at work, moving around without restrictions, and school should resume in a month. But we are still living in a pandemic. For some populations deemed high risk, it is still very much an overwhelming time. Tonight in Healthy Living, we look at some of the concerns and challenges faced by one of these high-risk groups.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

It is estimated that fourteen percent of our population is living with diabetes. That is almost forty-five thousand Belizeans. This population is one of several groups that are considered high risk for severe complications of COVID-19, which makes life for them in todays reality – anything but normal.


Lucia Ellis, Programme Coordinator, Belize Diabetes Association

“The message that came out was that people living with diabetes are at risk. They should stay locked-in. They need to be careful, avoid this, avoid that and the fear – my concern was the fear that that was instilling in that patients.”

Lucia Ellis

Lucia Ellis is the programme coordinator for a project being executed by the Belize diabetes association in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and funded by the World Diabetes Foundation. Its aim is to help type-two diabetics maintain their condition and minimize their risks for complications. The programme has over five hundred patients between the ages of eighteen and sixty. Ellis says there are numerous concerns for the people she works with.


Lucia Ellis

“My concern was whether they would have access to medication. Whether – how they would cope with their emotions, the emotional dynamics of fear and death or getting more sick. The risks that they would have to incur because of wanting to access proper food. All of the different things that were thrown at them.  In one case the people from the southern highway they refuse to go to the clinic because they didn’t want to take public transport. They are fearful of being exposed. So you know the fear that people have is real.”


So, the association has been in close contact with their participants. They have been helping to coordinate medications for pick up. Urging patients to stay healthy, to continue to access the healthcare they need; and, just generally to keep themselves healthy. Type two diabetics benefit greatly from eating a proper diet and getting regular exercise. Ellis points out that there is a common misconception that diabetes affects mostly elderly persons. But in her work, she has seen otherwise.


Lucia Ellis

“Years ago the diabetic population was much older, anything over thirty, but now we are seeing patients that are in our listing ranging from eighteen which is quite young and if you are diagnosed with diabetes at eighteen. You dont make the necessary lifestyle changes then you know you will be at risk for the complications much earlier. Thats where the program is trying to impact on.”


When the state of emergency ended on June thirtieth, it meant diabetics would once again need to interact and integrate with the broader community. Ellis says while many of their participants are very concerned; she encourages them to take all precautions to stay safe.


Lucia Ellis

“It may come across as being selfish or standoffishas we say in our culture to wear a mask and to avoid or social distance. All of that is part of the apprehension that people have to do the right thing but at the end of the day if the science if you wear a mask and you protect yourself, then do that. Wear the mask — One. Second – do not expose yourself to crowds if it is not necessary. We have done well so far. The state of emergency is lifted; there is no reason why we need to become free if it has been working for us. Remain confined as much as necessary. Third – eat well, find local, eat natural foods. Belize is rich with healthy foods, our greens our ground food, etc. Go to the clinics. Take your medications. Be informed.”


If you’d like to know more about the self care programme, you can contact the Belize Diabetes Association at 203-3333 or find them on Facebook.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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