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Diabetes killed 63,958, afflicted 2.7m Nigerians in 2019, say experts

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• Urge national prevalence survey
• ‘How to check disease’

No fewer than 63,958 Nigerians died of diabetes and its complications in 2019, out of 2.7 million living with the non- communicable disease (NCD) in the country.

It has also been predicted that there would be a 143 per cent increase in prevalence of the chronic disease between 2019 and 2045, that is, there would be 3.861 million more Nigerians (6.5 million) to live with the condition if nothing is done to stop the trend.

These figures were disclosed by a panel of experts during “Novo Nordisk World Diabetes Day Webinar (Nigeria)” held to mark the World Diabetes Day (WDD) 2020 at the weekend.

To check the situation, the experts, among other recommendations, urged the Federal Government to conduct a national prevalence study on diabetes and other non-communicable diseases and to strengthen the primary health care centres to be able to screen, diagnose and treat the disease.

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The theme for the WDD 2020, “The Nurse and Diabetes”, is meant to raise awareness around the crucial role that nurses play in supporting people living with diabetes.

The panel of experts include: Consultant Physician/ Endocrinologist, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Prof. Anthonia Ogbera; Consultant Physician/ Endocrinologist, Enugu State University Teaching Hospital (ESUTH) and Vice President, Diabetes Association of Nigeria (DAN), Dr. Ejiofor Ugwu; Senior Nursing Officer/Diabetes Educator, EKO HOSPITAL Lagos, Mrs. Adekunbi Ayanrinde and Senior Diabetes Nurse, Educator, ISN products Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Cynthia Ozoalor.

Ogbera, in a paper on the strategies to reduce the rising burden of diabetes in Nigeria, said the disease killed more people than COVID-19, Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) and other diseases. She raised the alarm that the burden of the disease is rising in the country, but expressed regret that the focus in disease control in Nigeria and other Sub Saharan African countries is on communicable and infectious diseases, leaving NCDs patients to suffer. “So there should be a shift in focus,” Ogbera said.

According to the endocrinologist, Nigeria ranks next to South Africa on the continent as worst affected countries with 2.7 million people living with the disease. “Diabetes is a lifelong condition so there must be a life long follow up,” she said.

On how to stem the tide, Ogbera recommended: “Scale up screening and diagnosis.

Once people are told they have diabetes they run to tertiary and secondary facilities. It should not be so. The PHC centres should be scaled up. We should keep on educating the public. Patients should be treated with a target.

“We need to conduct national prevalence study. We do not have any factual data. The only one done in 1990 showed the prevalence was 2.2 per cent when we were just 90 million people in Nigeria. There should be access to medical education. The message is to strengthen PHC to be able to detect and manage diabetes.”

Ugwu recommended adoption of holistic approach and multi-disciplinary measures involving different experts in the healthcare industry, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dieticians, physiotherapists and others.

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