Diabetes is characterized by high Blood Sugar (Glucose) levels, which result from defects in insulin secretion, or effectiveness, or both. Normally, Blood Glucose levels are controlled by Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin lowers the Blood Glucose level. When the Blood Glucose elevates (for example, after eating food), insulin is released from the pancreas to normalize the glucose level. Insulin resistance creates a vicious cycle and more and more insulin is produced to make glucose absorption possible.

This leads to excess insulin and the eventual destruction of the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. This further leads to a build-up of blood glucose and eventually a diabetes diagnosis.


Here are some quick facts about diabetes in Jamaica:

  • Approximately 10,000 of children under age 15 are said to be suffering from diabetes.
  • More than 220,000 Jamaicans between 15 and 74 years old have diabetes. This translates to 13.6% of the population.
  • The ministry data shows that, up to 2009, there were 92,860 men and 132,469 women, aged 25 years and over, who had diabetes.
  • Diabetes is the second leading cause of death for Jamaicans under 70 years old. It ranks as the leading cause of death for women in this age group and third for men.
  • Obesity, which is a main risk factor for diabetes, affects 38% of women and 12% of men, according to 2008 statistics.
  • In 2011, the National Health Fund had 106,017 persons with diabetes on its card programme. The agency paid $616,461,903 to beneficiaries for diabetes alone.
  • There is a worldwide prediction that the amount of persons diagnosed with diabetes will increase by 55% by the year 2030. This means that there will be a shift from  one-in-five adults to about one-in-four to one-in-three adults over age 15 developing diabetes.
  • Professor Errol Morrison, the director of the University Diabetes Outreach Programme, says diabetes is the second leading cause of loss of limbs in the Caribbean, following car accidents.
  • Diabetes is a leading cause of heart and blood vessel disease and a leading cause of damage to the heart in Jamaica.
  • In Jamaica, diabetes is the second leading cause of death. Registrar General Office, Statin, 2003
  • Diabetes affects 17.9% of population 15 years and older, 90% Type 2, 10% Type 1
  • About 53,706 Jamaicans do not know they have diabetes.

More information: