This country spends $8 billion every year on the treatment on chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, and this trend has the potential to bankrupt the government, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has said.
The minister gave the opening address at the University of the West Indies Faculty of Medical Sciences first ever conference on Nanomedicine: A Glimpse into the Future of Medicine, held on Sunday at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mount Hope.
“It is that big. It is that much of a burden, and the healthcare system simply cannot go on with the treatment-based model,” he told the audience.
About 143,000 people here have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Federation.
Referencing the theme of the 2018 National Budget, Deyalsingh said if the government is to shift the paradigm from treatment to prevention, advances in nanotechnology is what will move patient care forward.
“As Minister of Health I would not like to see Trinidad and Tobago be the backwaters of (the development of) this technology. I would like to see coming to TT with some degree of speed is the novel (solutions) that nanotechnology promises,” he said.
Some of these advances included minimally invasive insulin delivery systems, contact lenses that can monitor glucose levels in real time, and insulin patches controlled by nanotechnology.
“These (innovations) can lead to a better quality of life for patients and to a lower cost to the state for treatment,” he said.
Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences Professor Terence Seemungal said the UWI recognised the importance of hosting such a conference to present to local professionals and academics the “latest information at the boundaries of human knowledge.”
“The future of medicine is not what we do today or tomorrow but what will be used 20 years from now.”
The conference featured presentations on the application of nanotechnology for all major medical science fields offered at the university, including dentistry, medicine, veterinary science and pharmacological science.
Among the presenters were speakers from several world-renowned institutions including Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of South Florida, Mercer University, Florida A&M University, all in the United States, and the University of the West Indies, St Augustine.