The President of Diabetes Association of Nigeria (DAN), Mohammed Alkali, has disclosed that over 11.2 million Nigerians are living with the disease. Alkali made the damning disclosure at a Photo Exhibition on people living with the debilitating condition organized by the National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR) to mark this year’s World Diabetes Day (WDD) in Abuja.
The DAN President pointed out that Nigeria loses about $4.5 billion to the disease yearly. He further disclosed that a diabetes patient in Nigeria spends not less than N300,000 annually on medication.
It has also been revealed that not less than132,500 Nigerians die annually from complications arising from the disease. These include stroke, heart failure, kidney damage, blindness and limb amputations.
The WDD is commemorated yearly on November 14 to mark the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who discovered the insulin hormone along with Charles Herbert Best in 1922. According to the available information, the WDD was created in 1991 by International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) 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 this year’s WDD is “Access to Diabetes Care.” the focus of this year’s campaign is on delaying or preventing type 2 diabetes and diabetes-related complications, with the slogan, “Know your risk, Know your response.” The IDF estimates that as many as 212 million people, or half of all adults currently living with diabetes, are undiagnosed.
About 1 in 10 adults worldwide have diabetes. Over 90 per cent have type 2 diabetes. Close to half are not yet diagnosed. In many cases, type 2 diabetes and its complications can be delayed or prevented by adopting and maintaining healthy habits. Medical experts advise that knowing your risk and what to do is important to support prevention, early diagnosis and timely treatment.
According to WHO, diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose (or blood sugar), which leads over time to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves. The most common is type 2 diabetes, usually in adults, which occurs when the body is resistant to insulin or doesn’t make enough insulin. Globally, about 422 million people have diabetes, the majority living in low-and middle-income countries, and 1.5 million deaths are directly attributed to diabetes each year.
As at 2022, it was estimated that 24 million adults live with diabetes in Africa. The figure was projected to rise by 129 per cent to 55 million by 2045. WHO projects that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death in 2030. This is very scary. Therefore, African countries should rise and come up with adequate response to the disease.
Unfortunately, both the number of cases and the prevalence of diabetes have been steadily increasing over the past few decades. Experts advise that healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco use are ways to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
We decry the rising cases of diabetes in the country and urge the health authorities to wage a relentless war against the scourge. The fact that 11.2 million Nigerians are living with the diabetes shows the enormity of the problem. Since the cost of treatment is rising steadily and most Nigerians spend out-of-pocket for their healthcare needs, we call on the government to subsidize the cost of treatment for people with diabetes.
The call has become necessary in view of the rising cost of living and escalating prices of drugs and other items needed by diabetic patients. Let government and healthcare givers intensify public enlightenment about the disease, causative factors, preventive measures and treatment options. The state and local governments should assist in disseminating information on the disease and how to ensure adequate care for people with the disease. They can also reduce the burden of the disease by bearing the cost of treatment for indigent diabetic patients as well as subsidizing for others.
At the same time, health-related non-governmental organizations can equally help in the diabetes awareness campaign. However, ensuring adequate diet and lifestyle modification can be of immense help in the treatment of diabetes.