'In 2010, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that 61, 000 people in the Gambia would have diabetes by 2030, which is about 4% of the current population which is not too far from the global estimates'.
This revelation is contained in a statement read on behalf of the minister of Health and Social Welfare, Fatim Badjie, by Dr Ahmed Secka, chief medical director of RVTH during The Gambia Medical and Dental Association's annual scientific meeting held recently at the Kairaba Beach Hotel. The meeting was organised in collaboration with Urolink, a medical organisation, based in Europe.
The meeting centred on recent advances in the management of Diabetes with special references to developing countries, a theme described by the Health minister as timely to the current prevailing challenges being experienced locally and globally within the health sector.
According to her, man has come a long way through his survival and non sedentary networks; commenting that man doesn't necessarily need to move further than his surroundings now basically he can continuously consume fatty, salty and sugary foods, and such attitude is consistently creeping into our society at an alarming rate in the light of globalisation, as televisions and internet have in one way or the other with the rapid changing information technology increased vulnerability due to poverty.
She went on to reveal that the WHOs estimates that in 2010 285 million adults were affected but by 2030 it would increase to 439 million adults, thus the number of affected people will increase by 154 million people.
'Gambia is still facing challenges with the common communicable diseases' , she noted whilst bringing to the public notice that in order to acquire regular medications, supportive and ancillary care such as X-rays, various clinical routines and specialized tests and in some cases hospitalization, for Diabetes patients is bound to increase in coming years. This however would be difficult for the Gambian Government to sustain considering other health expenditures.
She however asserted that the government would want to focus on addressing this up coming disaster, which would be done in a multi sectored form including different ministries in the country. They would first focus on advocacy through comprehensive health promotion strategy to increase public awareness on NCDs, with its attending factors of inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels in the country.
She also added that priority would be given to the development of risk prevention policies, characterized by population based interventions with emphasis on primary prevention.
She proudly reported that her ministry is collaborating with WHO to institutionalise the STEPS approach to obtain baseline data for risk factors of NCDs, the current nutrition policy will be revisited to examine possible linkages between nutrition, food and agriculture as it can help in creating policies to address the importation of safe healthy foods and adequate regulatory policies for health claims as well as nutrition labelling in all imported foods.
Minister Badjie further applauded The Gambia Medical and Dental Association for the noble aims and objectives as well as its keen interest, with its reservoir of senior colleagues both in the private and public domain who provide a good resource that plays a significant role in the development of the sector. She expressed her ministries effort on human resource development and training for young doctors submitted to them by the association.