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1.6m Nigerians live with diabetes as disease kills over 40,000

By Chukwuma Muanya, Assistant Editor
07 April 2016   |   1:05 am
As the world today marks the World Health Day (WHD) with the theme, ‘Beat diabetes: Scale up prevention, strengthen care, and enhance surveillance...
Dr. Kayode Obembe

Dr. Kayode Obembe

• NMA says it can halt condition, warns giving kids antibiotics increases risk
As the world today marks the World Health Day (WHD) with the theme, ‘Beat diabetes: Scale up prevention, strengthen care, and enhance surveillance,” the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have alerted to rising cases of the disease in the world especially in developing countries including Nigeria.

In a statement released ahead of the WHD, which was jointly signed by the President, Dr. Kayode Obembe, and Secretary General, Dr. Adewunmi Alayaki, the NMA noted: “Today as always, we empathise with the more than 1.56 million Nigerians who are living with diabetes – constituting a national prevalence of 1.9 per cent …

“We note with indignation that due to inequities in availability, affordability and accessibility of efficient and effective healthcare delivery in our nation, the majority of the over 40,000 Nigerians who died from the condition in 2015 could have been saved, not forgetting about 1million country men and women who have the disease but are yet to be diagnosed and treated, and another estimated 3.85 million people with impaired glucose tolerance – a pre-diabetic condition.”

Also, latest statistics from the WHO indicate the number of adults living with diabetes has almost quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults. Factors driving this dramatic rise include overweight and obesity.

In 2012 alone diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths. Its complications can lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation.

On the occasion of the World Health Day 2016, WHO urged action on diabetes, drawing attention to the need to step up prevention and treatment of the disease.

The first “WHO global report on diabetes” demonstrates calls upon governments to ensure that people are able to make healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose, treat and care for people with diabetes. It encourages individuals to eat healthily, be physically active, and avoid excessive weight gain.

According to the WHO, diabetes is predicted to become the seventh leading cause of death in the world by the year 2030 and total deaths from diabetes are projected to rise by more than 50 per cent in the next 10 years.

The main goals of the World Health Day 2016 campaign are to increase awareness about the rise in diabetes, and its staggering burden and consequences, in particular in low- and middle-income countries; and to trigger a set of specific, effective and affordable actions to tackle diabetes. These will include steps to prevent diabetes and diagnose, treat and care for people with diabetes.

Scientists have revealed that young children who are given antibiotics are more likely to develop pre-diabetes in adolescence.
Experts at Athens University Medical School in Greece warned that the drugs could disrupt a child’s gut microbial ecosystem.

Lead study author, Dr. Charikleia Stefanaki, said: “Increased consumption up to the age of three seems to decrease beneficial gut microbes and alter nutrient absorption and metabolism. This may lead to pre-diabetes, an early high-risk stage of type 2 diabetes mellitus.”

As part of efforts towards making treatment, care and support for diabetes accessible and affordable for patients, NMA said it would embark on a large-scale community screening for diabetes and related ailments including their complications at the forthcoming Annual General Conference/Delegates’ meeting in Sokoto State from April 24 to 30, 2016.

The association expects that “the NMA’s Face of Healthy Living and Medical Check-ups in Nigeria” who is the current Governor of Sokoto state, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, would be on hand to kickoff this important national and humanitarian duty.

According to the NMA, diabetes is one of four priority Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) targeted by world leaders in the 2011 Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of NCDs and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2016-2030 (SDG Goal 3).

The medical doctors said Nigeria as a signatory to the declaration, must implement the Global Action Plan which has to halt the rise of diabetes and obesity by 2025 as a target.

The NMA called on the Federal Government to declare a National Consciousness Day for Health Awareness and Medical Check-ups in which the ideals of healthy living including consumption of healthy diets, regular physical exercises, good environmental sanitation and personal hygiene practices, campaign for drug abuse, etc, would be re-enforced in the polity.

The association said this year’s celebration would be another opportunity to take another decisive step towards advancing universal health coverage (UHC) by expanding the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) coverage, making it mandatory through the implementation of the National Health Act 2014.

It says it sees hope in the direction which the current Minister of Health Prof. Isaac Adewole, and the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagien Ehanire, have indicated, especially the plan to revitalise 1,000 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) nationwide in the next two years. “Should this succeed, the care of diabetics would benefit along with other conditions that afflict Nigerians,” it noted.

The doctors said because there was never enough government money to provide every conceivable health dividend, the implementation of the targeted Public Private Partnership (PPP), as approved by the National Council on Health in 2005 would attract the needed private sector competencies by providing extra funding for more jobs, eliminating inefficiency, and truancy in health facilities that would enable facilities to manage both acute and chronic complications of diabetes including chronic kidney diseases with capacity for dialysis and transplant surgery; retinal and cataract surgery facilities; better equipped cardiac labs for diagnosis of diabetic-related heart disease and cardiovascular surgical centres; and sophisticated foot / limb care services.

The NMA encouraged the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the National Agency for Food, drug administration and control (NAFDAC) to enhance their vigilance and exercise their statutory mandates: prevent the importation of all forms of fake and adulterated medical equipment and medicines accordingly, fake blood pressure (BP) and blood glucose measuring devices.

The association encouraged all Nigerians who use their own devices at home to take them along when they attend clinics and hospitals for standardisation and calibration from time to time.

According to the NMA, prevention is cheaper, easier, safer and better than cure which is why it renews its call for all Nigerians to imbibe the culture of periodic medical check-ups by first consulting their doctor; avoid self-medication; avoid abrupt stopping of medications without the direction of their doctor; and avoid the mixing of orthodox medicines with herbal or native remedies.