THE Rotary club of Anstruther has joined forces with its counterparts in South America to battle diabetes.
Masterminded by member Andrew Lindsay, a retired teacher, the Anster club, along with the Rotary Club of Demerara, is taking part in a two-year, $17,000 (around £10,600) project to fight the disease in Guyana, where it is one of the leading causes of death.
Mr Lindsay, who has family links to the country, has just returned from a visit there. He and colleagues from the Demerara Rotary helped mount a medical expedition to the remote Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo region.
The project’s main aim is to take diabetes screening, treatment and education to the Amerindian people of the area around the village of Annai – some 280 miles from the country’s main town of Georgetown.
Funds for the project, which has been two years in the planning, came from both clubs and the Rotary Foundation.
Mr Lindsay told the Mail diabetes is very prevalent in Guyana. He said: “Most people don’t realise they have type 2 until health problems become acute, and possibly fatal.
“Most of the often young amputees you see in Georgetown are victims who had developed incurable peripheral ulcers that turned gangrenous.
“The cost in terms of health and sheer misery is incalculable and, while diet and exercise have a significant effect in halting the disease, testing is essential.
“Much preparatory work was done with the Rotary Club of Demerara to raise awareness and to establish collaborative links with the Ministry of Health.”
While in Guyana, Mr Lindsay discovered 10 per cent of those tested had high blood sugar readings and will need to be regularly monitored. One person’s reading was five times the ‘safe’ limit and had to be put straight on to insulin.
Apart from the remoteness, poor medical support and extremely difficult and arduous travel, he said he found there were unexpected hurdles.
For example, men especially are often reluctant to come forward to be tested, because of a stigma that has become attached to health outreach programmes in general.
However, he added this first expedition was a success, with tests carried out, monitoring arranged and local training provided – as well as creating good publicity to help the project expand and grow over the next two years.
Mr Lindsay also started a literacy project while there.
For more about the work of the Rotary, visit www.rotaryanstruther.org.