By EARYEL BOWLEG
HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands says his ministry is concerned about the Bahamas Diabetic Association’s funding issue.
Eugene Thurston, director general for the association told The Tribune Friday that their funds had decreased to $100,000 over the years while the number of diabetics increased “tremendously”.
He estimated that they provided care for 25- 30 people a day.
Dr Sands noted that the association receives financial assistance from the ministry, but there is not enough money to keep the doors open for every health organisation.
“They’re an important stakeholder,” he said. “They’re an important non-government organisation. They do incredibly important work and the value to the community is great. Now the issue is how should that organisation be funded?”
“We don’t have the budgetary head room to ensure that the financial viability of all of the health-related NGOs. I mean it’s not possible. Where would you draw the line?”
“We do give them an annual grant, but you know to clearly give the number of diabetics in the country and the demand – it can be very challenging. We also have an issue where charitable donations don’t necessarily keep up with needs. Not true for the diabetic association, but for the heart foundation and kidney foundation and so on and so forth.”
Mr Thurston acknowledged the work of Dr Sands and the Ministry of Health with providing the association with projects to work on, but support was lacking from companies because of the state of the economy.
“You know companies are saying that things are tough and they can’t do what they used to do, which is unfortunate and even after Dorian it’s even worse now because most of the persons who they would normally get funding from have given funding to a number of organisations as a result of Dorian,” the director general explained.
As for what the organisation is doing to deal with funding, he listed initiatives, including selling to members of Parliament the association’s major 90-day “Handling Your Health” programme, to train diabetic educators to help individuals in constituencies.
“We’re trying to sell it to the various members of Parliament to do in their constituencies because in any constituency there’s anywhere from, if not thousands, hundreds of diabetics and pre-diabetics. And so we’re hoping to sell it to them at $7,500 for three months training programme.”
“We’re going to continue to see how corporate Bahamas is going to assist. We’re doing strategic planning. We’re going to put on a number of programmes. We’re going to try to see if we could do some basic things. We’re planning a prayer breakfast for diabetics and then we’re going to see if we could hopefully put on maybe a signature event and then we’re also thinking of doing an online diabetic memorial wall where if you have a family member who’s died as a result of diabetes you want to have them on the memorial wall.”
Speaking at the Bahamas Podiatric Medical Association Conference last October, Dr Sands revealed that one in seven of the population is suffering from diabetes, which is now the fifth leading cause of death in the country.
The disease has become more prevalent in the Bahamas over the years.