Fuad: Fast food wrecks kidneys

The original article can be found in: Trinidad Newsday By SEAN DOUGLAS

HEALTH Minister, Dr Fuad Khan, said doctors have found the consumption of processed foods has been ruining people’s kidneys and leading to a crisis in TT.

Khan was speaking in the Lower House Budget debate last Friday.

A urologist by profession, he espoused the idea of primary/preventative health care and patient satisfaction at the treatment given at public hospitals and clinics.

Khan lamented that there exists a correlation between obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and hypertension, expensive maladies to treat medically. In contrast to low-obesity regions such as Scandinavia and Japan, nations such as TT, Mexico and the USA typically have obesity rates of 30 percent of the population, said Khan. “What you eat is what you become,” he said, lamenting an over-consumption of sugar, fat, chemicals and processed foods.

He bemoaned that many children in TT now suffer “Type 2” diabetes which is normally associated with adults.

The damage that processed foods is now doing to children’s kidneys has led to an upsurge in the need for dialysis, Khan said. He said private providers of dialysis are all overloaded with patients, leading him to have recently taken a note to Cabinet to try to alleviate this situation. People are addicted to certain foodstuffs, and eat it, only for it to damage their kidneys, he stressed.

Khan also noted increased obesity goes hand in hand with diabetes.

“This is the problem for the future,” he warned. Khan said careful eating now could prevent heart surgeries now and in the future.

The Health Minister also said he hoped that public health clinics could now become “wellness centres” where people could regularly turn up to check “their numbers” (such as their blood pressure number).

Noting most clinics run only from 8 am to 2 pm, Khan said he hoped to have them open longer — 24 hours a day, or up until 8 pm or 10 pm, plus on weekends — but that to do so will require recruiting doctors and nurses from Cuba, Malaysia, Philippines, India, Uganda, Nigeria, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and elsewhere in the Caribbean.

He said he hoped that by having longer opening hours at clinics, this would reduce the long waiting time now at the accident and emergency wards of TT’s public hospitals.

Khan was keen that patients have a good experience of their hospital/clinic visit, which he says starts the minute the patient is greeted by a security guard on the premises.

A cut in the waiting times faced by patients would also be helped by the introduction of a patient “health card” and by the use of computers to relay the patients’ details from one area of a hospital to another, and even to possibly offer “tele-medicine” where a doctor can diagnose a patient via the Internet, he said.

The CDAP programme will be run by issuing each patient with a smart card that includes a computer-chip that can be read by any of a network of pharmacies across TT, he said.

Khan also said the planned Children’s Hospital at Couva will include a Burns Unit and an Emergency Trauma Unit that would handle accident victims from the Point Lisas Industrial Estate.

He said the Chancery Lane facility of the San Fernando General Hospital would open in November/December adding that Cabinet has agreed to a note for a government-to-government agreement with Austria to develop the new 150-bed Point Fortin Hospital on a new site to its predecessor hospital which in turn will be refurbished.

The new hospital would be ready by 2015. He also suggested TT’s hospitals could be used for educational tourism.

The Sangre Grande and Mayaro/Rio Claro Hospitals would be built on a design-build-equip basis so as to give local contractors a chance, with local funding, he said.

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