Tue | Sep 29, 2020

Diabetes association instrumental in creating holistic healthcare

Published:Monday | January 14, 2019 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Professor Errol Morrison (left) in conversation with Christian Frater, president of the Lions Club of St Andrew during a special function on Sunday at Hotel Four Seasons in St Andrew honouring Lions Club founder Melvin Jones.

Thanks to the Lions Club of St Andrew, which was responsible for starting the Diabetes Association of Jamaica, the delivery of healthcare to diabetics over four decades has evolved positively, according to the island's leading endocrinologist and biochemist, Professor Errol Morrison.

The Lions Club founded the association in 1976.

Morrison was guest speaker at the club's special function at the Hotel Four Seasons in St Andrew on Sunday, to observe the birthday of Lions Club founder, the late Melvin Jones, who was born January 13, 1879.

Morrison explained that the Diabetes Association of Jamaica was instrumental in the implementation of several medical services being offered today.

"We thought we ought to change the way government was doing things. There was a cadre of healthcare workers called nursing assistants, community health aides, and so on, who were not even allowed to take blood pressure.

"We recognised them as important contributors to healthcare. They were brought into the loop and were allowed to test blood pressure, blood sugar and even help to educate about diabetes and associated conditions," Morrison pointed out.




"We opened up the door for certain sets of healthcare members who could begin to see an improved status in their profession. The next set was the dietitians. In the '80s, dietitians were seen only in the context of preparing meals for the healthcare sector. Because of the importance, the role of your diet and how you ate, we saw them as an important part of the healthcare system, who could not only serve but could function as consultants."

During his address, the professor pointed to the Caribbean being referred to as the amputation capital of the world, but that status has changed because of the association's work.

"Back in the day, the Caribbean was seen as the capital of amputations in the world. It spoke to the need to incorporate the group of foot-care specialists. After lobbying to the Government, that opened up a committee called the Professional Supplementary to Medicine. They implemented what was called chiropractics. In the 1980s, that was just taboo," he noted.

"We opened it up because of the holistic approach we wanted to see offered to chronic diseases, in particular being led by the diabetes story. The chiropractors, the herbalists, the iridologist - all those who could contribute in some way, irrespective of what your training may be, have something to contribute."