– As it commemorates World Diabetes Day 202
Mega Lifesciences, a leading pharmaceutical company in the country, has called on Nigerians, especially those at-risk or already diagnosed diabetes patients, to jettison westernised and processed foods, which have been implicated as major cause of diabetes, stressing the need for people to engage more in physical exercises, as studies have validated its merits in prevention and management of the condition.
Mega Lifesciences has been an active player in the world of diabetes medicines in the country, well known in the same space for its sustained release formulation of metformin, Panfor SR and NAT B, a high potency formula for nerve rejuvenation amongst others. The pharma company in collaboration with medical experts, made the submission at the media parley organised in commemoration of World Diabetes Day 2021, themed: “Access to Diabetes Care: If Not Now, When?”
Speaking at the conference, Professor of Endocrinology at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Olufemi Fasanmade, emphasized the importance of physical activities in controlling blood sugar levels. According to him, exercise helps people burn stored fat while keeping them active and fit.
The endocrinologist, who prescribed 10,000 steps daily as practical solution against diabetes, cancer and other lifestyle diseases, said Nigerians have the remedy to diabetes with them, which is active movement and change in diet, from westernized foods to natural foods, as healthy diet means a lot in the control of these conditions.
“The best things we can do are in our hands, it is in you moving. Move more, move more. There are many devices to count steps; some are on our phones, while some smart wristwatches come with step counters. We need to take 10,000 steps per day to keep away diabetes, cancer and others.
“One of the reasons for the urban prevalence of diabetes is a lack of recreation. Urbans dwellers are afraid of kidnappers, assassins, okada riders, and so they rather lock themselves in their flats than do exercise. Another factor fueling the development of the condition in the cities is the consumption of bad foods, which are the cheapest types of food in urban areas. It is cheap to buy meat pie and gala than to buy garri and oha soup, because they are very expensive. It’s also cheaper to buy a bottle of soft drink for N150 than to buy a ball of watermelon for N1000”, he asserted.
On the cost implication of diabetes management, the expert explained how financially demanding it is for an average Nigerian, as he would need N5000 to N14000 monthly to purchase strips for testing of blood sugar, which must be done once or twice a day. Despite this scenario, he urged patients to always strive to have their blood sugar under the control, which will delay the progression of the disease necessitating increased spends on medications and devices.
“So that shows how difficult diabetes is for those who living with it. So how can we cope with such cost? The simplest thing to do is to ensure that your blood sugar is so controlled, so you may not need to check as often. When your diabetes is well controlled, you don’t need to check your blood sugar every day, but if your diabetes has progressed further then you have to check very often” he counselled.
The Managing Director, Mega Lifesciences, Manesh Mehra, disclosed the vision of the firm, under the Good Health By Yourself Initiative (GHBY)- which takes free screenings to communities and smaller towns across the nation to help them stay healthy.
His words: “We want to take medical outreach and quality education about the diabetes and its complications and lifestyle. This way, we hope to grant them access while helping them take control of their health”.
Dr Chinasa Amadi, lifestyle medicine practitioner, spoke extensively on why Nigerians need to change their orientation about diet and physical activities, as predictions have shown that prevalence of diabetes might get worse if people don’t embrace a better orientation of healthy lifestyle. Not even a genetic history could condemn anyone to developing the condition, she said, as it established that genetic predisposition to diabetes is only 10 to 30 per cent, while prospects have 70 per cent chance of not coming down with diabetes.
Amadi, who is also the founder of Ariella Health & Fitness Ltd, condemned Nigerians for being too busy but not active, a situation that has led to surge in the cases of diabetes in the country. She therefore recommended 300 minutes of physical activity weekly, in addition to abstinence from smoking, alcohol drinking, while they should desist from sleep depreciation.
According to her “It is expected that we move more, as Nigerians are very busy people but not active people. When you have diabetes, the recommendation is 300 minutes a week of physical activities. We have to change the concept of gym membership to exercising normally. If you have a stair case, you can walk up and down the stair case intentionally. Sleep deprivation also worsens insulin resistance, studies have shown. So appropriate sleep is necessary.
“National Institute of Health studies actually showed that those who eat more plant-based meals have better diabetes control. Why are we not eating more plant- based food? If you don’t have time for your health, you will definitely have time for sickness. In lifestyle medicine, where we prevent, treat and in some cases reverse chronic conditions diabetes, it’s important for you to know that you need to control your numbers.
“We need to reduce the number of processed foods we eat these days. Somehow, we eat more semo than garri. Our garri is so good but everybody is running away from it. Our soups are so nice but we prefer to eat bread than to eat potato. We prefer to eat small chops than to eat yam or beans. We need to go back to the basis of our diet choices”.
In her own contribution,Pharm Ibukun Adetuyi, diabetes care manager, Mega Lifesciences, examined the misconceptions surrounding diabetes, and explained efforts the organisation is making in correcting this widespread disinformation about the condition. While the firm in collaboration with healthcare practitioners was able to screen several thousands of patients’ pre-COVID, she said they are transitioning to the digital space in reaching Nigerians via specially created social media handles on Facebook and Instagram.
She further revealed their plan to raise awareness in commemoration of this year’s World diabetes day by providing free screening and aerobics in partnerships with four major pharmacies across the country. Other smaller community activities have also been marked for this, saying that is part of the things the company is doing to tackle the growing global concern of diabetes in Nigeria.
According to her : “There is so much that can be done because diabetes is largely a lifestyle condition, but there are a lot of misconceptions about the condition, as some people view it as a spiritual, mystical, condition.
“However, for us at Mega Lifesciences, we have partnered a lot with healthcare practitioners in previous years. Pre-COVID, in collaboration with healthcare practitioners, we reached several thousands of patients with free screening. Now that COVID came with it challenges, we are transitioning to the digital media, with aims to enlighten patients on better and healthier glucose levels. Aside from our corporate handles, we have specially created other social media handles on Facebook and Instagram with the name: “Your Sugar We Care”.
“To that end, we have started some forms of education on social media with credible information that is relatable to patients in correcting all the misconceptions out there”.
In his closing remarks, Mr Amit Raghuvanshy, business head, Mega Lifesciences, expressed the company’s commitment to improving access to diabetes care especially in the areas of education and awareness. “In the next couple of days, we will roll out free screening and free aerobics in multiple centers across Nigeria.”.