World Diabetes Day: Over 5 million Nigerians are living with diabetes


November fourteen of every year is dedicated to diabetes campaign as World Diabetes Day is commemorated throughout the universe. Led by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 by IDF and the World Health Organization in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat posed by diabetes. World Diabetes Day became an official United Nations Day in 2006 with the passage of United Nation Resolution 61/225

The theme of World Diabetes Day 2016 is “Eyes on Diabetes”, while Nigeria has a record of about 5 million people living with diabetes with more than 1.56 million cases of the condition on record in 2015.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, the year’s activities and materials will focus on promoting the importance of screening to ensure early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and treatment to reduce the risk of serious complications.

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While it was noted that one in two adults with diabetes is undiagnosed, while many people live with type 2 diabetes for a long period of time without being aware of their condition. By the time of diagnosis, diabetes complications may already be present.

The IDF further revealed that up to 70% of type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented or delayed by adopting healthier lifestyles, equivalent to up to 160 million cases by 2040.

“With increasing levels of poor nutrition and physical inactivity among children in many countries, type 2 diabetes in childhood has the potential to become a global public health issue leading to serious health outcomes”, it warned.

Commonly referred to as diabetes, diabetes mellitus was first identified as a disease associated with “sweet urine,” and excessive muscle loss in the ancient world. Elevated levels of blood glucose (hyperglycaemia) lead to spillage of glucose into the urine; hence the term sweet urine.

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According to Dr Anthonia Ogbera, an associate professor of medicine, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, Lagos, it may take many years for complications of diabetes to show up. In Nigeria, these complications occur at the time of diagnosis of the disease in 25 per cent of patients.

In a literature review on AlphaBetic, an anti-diabetes drug marketed by PharmacyPlus Limited, a diabetes expert remarked that “Nigeria like most developing countries is experiencing a rapid epidemiological transition with the burden of NCDs (non-communicable diseases) especially diabetes and hypertension which are threatening to overwhelm the health care system that is already overburdened by HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.”

In tackling the disease, the  Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole, in a chat with journalists ahead of the WDD, said the Federal Government has outlined six critical strategies to reduce the risk factors associated with diabetes and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria. Adewole said the ministry has adopted the global monitoring framework for NCDs, development of a National Diabetes Plan and Policy as some of the approaches to stemming the tide of diabetes in Nigeria. Others include increased monitoring and surveillance systems, engagement and right, improved access to care and sustainable financing for management of diabetes.

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According to him, the ministry had adopted the global framework, which focuses on strengthening data collection for the global burden of the disease. Adewole added: “We have developed a National Policy and Strategic Plan of Action on NCD and a National Nutritional Guideline on NCD Prevention, Control and Management. The document lists our local food items with glycaemic index, which provide Nigerians with information to make informed decision on food choices.’



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