The Challenge of Treating Diabetes….in Barbados

Sequoia Leuba, 2015 GHLI Fellow

Diabetes in Barbados?  Not something I had ever thought about before this year.  But, when I applied to be a GHLI Fellow, I learned an estimated one in five Barbadian adults has diabetes, and more than 40% of beds in the island’s largest hospital are occupied with diabetic patients. Now I am in Barbados – helping leaders from diverse backgrounds develop and implement a strategy to address this problem.  

While several successful programs have been implemented, the fragmented care is unable to address the growing diabetic population. I travelled around the island learning first-hand about the strengths and weaknesses of each program, implementation successes and challenges, and how the program structure could be incorporated in an expanded island-wide approach. After many lively discussions, the Barbados delegation plans to implement a system redesign in public and private primary care clinics. To support this endeavor, I will spend part of the summer evaluating the current state of diabetes and its care in Barbados.

In addition to working, exploring Barbados has led to great adventures. A short excursion to see a delegation member play piano at a local restaurant ended up being an unanticipated undertaking, as going from the restaurant to the boat club where the party was moving involved walking in the drizzle to the boardwalk, and traveling on a dinghy, to a sailboat, to a leaking kayak, to wading in the beach, all in a maxi skirt that kept ripping. Arriving drenched, I was exhilarated – a feeling I consistently have, whether working with a magnificent team or having remarkable experiences. 
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