Today is World Health Day 2016, and the theme for this year’s commemoration is: “Beat Diabetes”. Diabetes is a chronic, progressive noncommunicable disease (NCD) characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose (blood sugar). It occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough of the insulin hormone, which regulates blood sugar, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.
According to a press release from the World Health Organisation (WHO) the number of people living with diabetes has nearly quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults, with most living in developing countries, like Nigeria.
WHO is calling all well meaning inhabitants of the world to participate in the battle against diabetes, in order to end the epidemic.
To effectively halt the prevalence of the disease, there are measures needed to expand health-promoting environments to reduce diabetes risk factors, like physical inactivity and unhealthy diets, and strengthening national capacities to help people with diabetes receive the treatment and care they need to manage their conditions.
“If we are to make any headway in halting the rise in diabetes, we need to rethink our daily lives: to eat healthily, be physically active, and avoid excessive weight gain,” says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “Even in the poorest settings, governments must ensure that people are able to make these healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose and treat people with diabetes.”
The number of people living with diabetes and its prevalence are growing in all regions of the world. In 2014, 422 million adults (or 8.5% of the population) had diabetes, compared with 108 million (4.7%) in 1980.
Speaking on the prevalence in Nigeria, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Prof. Chris Bode, said though the disease was gradually assuming an epidemic proportion worldwide, as it had become one of the 10 leading causes of death globally, the real situation in Nigeria could not really be established because of lack of data.
He said while the dearth of data continues to affect diabetes management and research, it had continue to ravage many Nigerians because of its silent nature.
Bode said: “Because of our cultural believe that if a condition does not stops one from eating, does not cause pains and bleeding, it is not considered serious,” the disease hides behind many others since it is taken for granted.