415m people living with diabetes globally, experts reveal

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Health

Monday, November 12,2018

IT has been disclosed that not fewer than 415 million people are presently living with diabetes globally a number which is projected to reach 642 million by the year 2040 just as it was discovered that more than 14 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa had diabetes in 2015 and we are projected to double by the year 2040.

The statistic was given by the National President of the Diabetes Association of Nigeria (DAN), Dr Mohammed Alkali at the 2nd National Diabetes Workshop/World Diabetes Day Celebration held at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, ATBUTH, Bauchi on Monday.

Dr. Mohammed Alkali who is also the Chief Medical Director [CMD] of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital [ATBUTH], Bauchi explained that 14th of November every year was earmarked as the World Diabetes Day in response to the growing concern about the escalating health threat posed by the disease across the globe and the celebration commenced globally since 1991.

According to him, the theme of the 2018 edition is ‘Women and Diabetes, our Right to a Healthy Future’ which theme targeted the womenfolk considering the fact that they are becoming more vulnerable to the disease which does not spare anybody irrespective of age, gender or race.

The DAN President who stated that there are many people who live with the ailment without being diagnosed said that the World Diabetes Day serves as the primary global awareness campaign of the disease calling on government and all stakeholders to give priority attention to controlling it.

The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole represented by the Director of Public Health of the Federal Ministry of Health said that the Ministry has also recognized the need to scale up efforts to strengthen the control of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases thereby reducing the burden of these diseases on the health system as well as on the economy.

According to him, the ‘Stop Diabetes Initiative Nigeria’ was launched on World Diabetes Day on 14th November 2013 to encourage active involvement of stakeholders in the implementation of the activities for the prevention, control and management of diabetes in Nigeria.

“I must inform you that the government is committed to providing leadership for the prevention and control of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases through the federal ministry of health by strategically eliminating the risk factors, improving the management of these diseases as well as preventing their complication.”

Another Health Professor, Professor Bakeri Adamu Girei of the Department of Medicine, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria who served as Guest Speaker at the event defined diabetic as ‘a person who has high blood glucose either because they are not producing enough insulin, or because the body does not respond properly to insulin’.

He noted that diabetes is categorized into four types- 1, 2, 3 and 4 which affects children, adults, pregnant women and the one that is caused by another diseases uncovering that the disease is incurable and pointed out that there is no better treatment for it than frequent taking of medication according to prescription and eating the right foods.

“Poorly managed diabetes leads to serious complications and early death. However, with good self-management and health professional support, people with diabetes can live a long, healthy life,” he asserted.

He also decried the use of herbal remedies by some diabetics claiming that many of such medicines have not undergone careful scientific assessment.

On the disease’s prevalence, the Professor noted that available statistics show that no fewer than 5 million people in the world die of diabetes annually which indicates that it kills faster than HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis and other deadly infections.

While buttressing his points further, the Medical Practitioner said the report released by the International Diabetes Federation in 2015 showed that 5.0 million people died of diabetes in the world that year which means that 10 patients died every minute from the disease. While according to the World Health Organisation [WHO] 2013 global observatory data he presented, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria killed 1.5 million, 1.5 million and 0.6 million people across the globe respectively which implies that diabetes is more deadly than those diseases.

He added that one in two adults with diabetes is undiagnosed lamenting that despite the disease’s increasing prevalence, it has not yet drawn the desired attention of the government and other stakeholders in Nigeria.

“Number of people with diabetes increased from 150 million in 2001 to 382 million in 2013, 415 million in 2015 and is expected to exceed 642 million by the year 2040. There has been a progressive increase in the incidence and prevalence of type 2 diabetes worldwide, more pronounced in underdeveloped and developing countries,” he asserted.

Also speaking, a Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano, Professor Andrew E. Uloko who presented a paper titled, ‘Strategies for the Prevention of Diabetes’ revealed that at least 8.8 per cent of the world’s population live with diabetes with Africa having the highest number of undiagnosed diabetics, this, he said is another challenge for people in the continent to be screened for the disease.

According to him, the available report shows that North America had 44.3 million diabetes as of 2015, South and Central America, 29.6 million, Europe, 59.8 million, Middle East and North Asia, 78.3 million and Western Pacific, 153.2 million respectively which figures were estimated to double by the year 2040 if the disease is not properly controlled.

The Physician enumerated some of the ways to manage diabetes to include; maintaining ‘normoglycaemia’, preventing ‘hypoglycaemia’, avoiding acute or chronic complications of diabetes as well as lifestyle modification with or without some form of pharmacological [drug] intervention.

He warned that poor control of the disease can lead to blindness, foot ulcer and amputation, kidney complications, stroke, heart attacks, poor pregnancy outcomes among other problems.

In his submission, Professor Bakari Adamu Girei lamented that while there is an organised system of care in most tertiary health institutions in Nigeria, the converse is the case in most secondary and primary health institutions, metabolic control is ‘suboptimal’ and optimal care is hampered by lack of accessibility of essential medicines and equipment.

“The state of diabetes care in Nigeria is worrisome that management of complications such as renal replacement therapy, laser coagulation etc are not accessible to the majority of patients,’’ he added.

While the Niger State Governor’s Wife, Dr Amina Sani Bello decried that there are many people in the nation especially those in rural areas who have a belief that diabetes is caused by witchcraft and for that, they do not go to the hospital for treatment.

Hence she advised DAN to keep on educating the public on the disease through workshops, seminars etc on regular basis in order to correct their ‘erroneous notion’.

Generally, all the speakers at the national diabetes workshop observed that the challenges of managing diabetes in Nigeria were; poverty, ignorance, poor health-seeking behaviour, late presentation, traditional medicine among others.

They therefore recommended the inclusion of diabetics into the National Health Insurance Scheme [NHIS], provision of drugs free of charge to the patients just like in the case of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis etc, training and retraining of health manpower at primary and secondary health centres to detect and manage the disease early to curtail complications and the insulin drugs should be made accessible to all by whatever means so as to save the lives of the patients.

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