13 Jul 2009

A healthy difference

I want to make a few observations here on some healthcare differences I noticed between Trinidad & Tobago, and England.

My former neighbour in Trinidad, and a close friend’s father, both lost a leg (each, eh) to complications of diabetes. Now my former neighbour can’t really afford a wheelchair, and since he was always an active guy in gardening etc, it is usual to see him outside, literally sitting (and dragging) on his arse to move around in his little front garden.

Take, on the other hand, someone I know fairly well here in the UK, who was recently diagnosed with diabetes.

I was reliably informed that the NHS automatically provided appointments for screening his feet… to ensure that there are no complications that would later arise. Things like feelings in the feet, circulation etc are thoroughly tested, regularly.

Also, a diabetic retinopathy is done. This is a test where the eyes are closely examined to ascertain whether the retina is healthy or perhaps damaged because of diabetic complications. Photographs are taken of the retina to compare as time goes by… normal eye tests (vision) are done to check for deterioration in sight also. No payment required.

Now, I know many more persons in Trinidad who are diabetic, and some severely so. None has ever told me of anything similar being done either at the hospital or (gasp!!) health centres. Heck, a lot of them find it hard to access essential medication like insulin and needles.

Diabetics in the UK obtain their medication (no matter the expense) free of charge. I know Trinidad and Tobago has something called CDAP, but I am not too sure how it works. I am aware the drugs available are the cheaper ‘generic’ types.