The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, has said that the federal government along with global health bodies are increasing their responses to diabetes challenges, a disease that is fast becoming prevalent in Nigeria.
He said his ministry has established a non communicable disease office complete with staff and other resources and a Diabetes Desk Officer, adding that they have partnered with the World Diabetes Foundation to set up almost 390 diabetes clinics nationwide and 60 clinics providing Diabetes/tuberculosis care.
Stating this at a one-day Sanofi Diabetes Summit in Lagos tagged: 'Diabetes: New management trends towards improving outcomes', Adewole said, "we also launched the National Strategic Plan of Action on Prevention and Control of NCDs in 2015. The document outlines roles, targets for 2025, objectives, and an implementation framework for achieving them in the medium and long terms. Notwithstanding this, more help and helpers are required in tackling the scourge diabetes presents."
Adewole, who was represented by the Chief Medical Director, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Prof. Chris Bode, said Diabetes Mellitus is a NCD with rising worldwide prevalence. "From 100 million in 1994 there are now 415 million people affected and projections for the future put the prevalence in 2030 at 642 million, most of the increase coming from Africa and Asia.
"Presently there are about 15 million diabetics in Africa and a quarter of this number reside in Nigeria. One in every 11 adults has diabetes and up to half of these are not diagnosed. Less than 10 per cent of people diagnosed with diabetes meet the targets of metabolic control.
"Yearly there are five million diabetes and diabetes related deaths and every 10 seconds a limb is amputated due to diabetes. In fact, diabetes is now the most common cause of lower extremity amputation. Diabetes is the first or second commonest cause of end stage renal disease in most centres worldwide and is one of the commonest causes of blindness. These people with diabetes often have shortened lifespan and 80 per cent of them die of cardiovascular complications ranging from stroke, myocardial infarction, heart or kidney failure to foot gangrene.
He said unfortunately, many of these lives are lost at the peak of their prime in the fifth or sixth decade of lives with the attendant devastating effect on the family unit or the nation as a whole. Adding that for the survivors, it has not been easy as diabetes remains one of the costliest conditions to treat, as expenses for some of the complications run into millions of naira per patient suffering from kidney failure, stroke, foot gangrene, ischaemic heart disease and retinopathy.
On her part, a Paediatry Endocrinologist, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Prof. Abiola Oduwole said diabetes awareness was very low in this country, adding that Nigerians were still not appreciating the importance of avoiding risk factors for diabetes. "We need to keep talking about how healthy eating, exercising, non smoking, among others can prevent diabetes.
"It is not that there is anything wrong with our food, only that we are eating too much of it. We should reduce the quantity, which means we will be eating less calorie. We are no longer like our parents who walk to farm and work. Now we sit in our cars, no exercise, and basically live sedentary lifestyles."
She said of importance is that type two diabetes was now seen in children. "Obesity is increasing and our children now bearing the burden. We are also beginning to see pre-diabetes in children and it has risen to about seven per cent.
"Government should put policies in place to encourage exercise in children. In those days there were playing grounds in schools, but not anymore.
"Insulin, which is the bedrock of diabetes management should be made available, affordable and accessible in the country," she added.