A regional study on type two Diabetes is currently taking place in Belize with a view to helping patients better manage their illness through diet, timeliness of self-medicating, and general behavioral practices.  It is part of a regional study in the Caribbean and Project Manager, Doctor Cliff Riley, says that it matters from country to country how people manage their illness. 

Dr. Cliff Riley, Project Mgr., Diabetes Education Project

“What we eat in Jamaica is different from what you eat in Belize on a normal basis; so, you’re core diet will vary from our core diet in Jamaica.  Even within different groups within that country there are variations in the diet; you also have variations in their cultural beliefs, variations in the mode of treatment.  There are some commuters who specifically utilize herbal remedies and some use more westernize current drugs to treat their diabetes and you also have some commuters who live sedentary lives and their not as active while you have others who are more active within the same country.  So, this project will seek to capture all of those variations and after capturing those variations within countries and among the different commuters within that country, we can develop a curriculum that will target those particular individuals so we can improve the diabetes management and self-management, in a sense.”

Meanwhile, Christina Sanchez, the Local Coordinator of the Project, says that the approach to helping patients to change their behavior will be one of a community-based program through peer educators and health aides, rather than dictating to them how they should live. 

Christina Sanchez, Local Coordinator, Diabetes Education Project

“We’re not cutting out anything and any food in excess, even if we consider it healthy could cause some damage if it is over consumed.  So, the whole idea behind diabetes management and food consumption is moderation; we are not saying that you cannot have a piece of fried chicken or half of a coke, at some point in time but we are saying you need to manage your intake as well as your output.”

Some 52 patients in the Belize District will be used a part of the pilot study.  The project will run for nine months in the first instance during which time patients records will be compared from month to month to see if has any success over time.  If it proves to be successful, then the hope is that it will be rolled out to the entire country.