Stating that diabetes is ravaging the Caribbean community in Brooklyn, a coalition of faith-based and community groups is partnering with New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and major area hospitals in conducting a massive diabetes exposition and symposium this Saturday, Dec. 3, at Erasmus Hall High School, 1199 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn.
According to Guyanese community leader John Williams, who is spearheading the initiative, the coalition, called New Creation Community Health Empowerment Corporation, will launch the “Island of Flatbush Diabetes Task Force” on Saturday, and has “mapped out an area in Central Brooklyn, dubbed “Island of Flatbush,” which is renowned to be the “largest concentration of West Indian people anywhere in the United States that is outside the Caribbean.”
“This population is one of the greatest sufferers of the diabetes epidemic in New York, especially the new type that was discovered, called the ‘Flatbush Diabetes,’” said Williams in a letter to more than 300 places of worship that he expects to participate in this weekend’s event.
Besides churches, Williams said the task force comprises Islamic centers, schools, community centers and organizations “with the 20/20 vision to reverse the incidence of diabetes by 20 percent by the year 2020.”
He said these churches, most of which are affiliated with the Adventist Church, and centers will be designated as “Centers for Preventive Health and Wellness.”
“This symposium is designed to arm faith leaders and their teams of community health workers and lifestyle coaches with the resources and tools to conduct an effective warfare against the epidemic,” Williams said.
He said the event will also feature, among other things, tests, screenings, and education and information sessions on diabetes, vision, heart disease, stroke, nutrition, podiatry, dentistry, obesity, stress and depression.
“Diabetes has been a silent disease that has devastating effects on individuals and families and countries for hundreds of years, but, because of neglect, diabetes has become a diabetes public health emergency,” Jamaican Donna Budai, charter president of Brooklyn Health Educators Lions Club and strategic committee member of the “Island of Flatbush Diabetes Task Force.” “We must declare war on this disease now more so than ever because of its current impact on our economy and individuals.”
Budai said more than 48 percent of adult New Yorkers have diabetes and pre-diabetes, including her.
“People with diabetes have medical expenses 2.3 times higher than non-diabetics, and are at risk for blindness, kidney failures, heart disease, stroke, amputation and death,” she warned, adding that evidence-based diabetes prevention education slashes risk of developing diabetes by 60 percent.
“In Flatbush, ‘the capital of the Caribbean (community),’ Chinese, Indians and Africans and other cultural groups, there are no exceptions,” Budai continued. “As this disease is compounded by poverty, cultural myths and use of non-traditional herbs and treatments, which affect health lifestyles and medical-seeking behaviors, more people are dying prematurely or unable to afford buying high-cost strips to test blood sugars or insulin to control their blood glucose.
“Help us stop avoidable disability and death by becoming a warrior of the ‘Island of Flatbush Diabetes Task Force’ to educate and empower our communities of the great news that we can reduce diabetes by 20 percent by year 2020,” she asked the community.
The exposition / symposium takes place from 11 am to 5 pm. For more information, contact Williams at (347) 962-0451, or at jhw36