As Nigeria commemorates the World Health Day yesterday, the World Health Organisation, WHO, has put the figure of people living with diabetes in Africa at 25 million, a rise from four million since 1980. The WHO country representative, Dr. Rui Gama Vaz gave this figure yesterday in Abuja during a goodwill message at a press briefing to commemorate the day with theme as ‘Beat Diabetes Mellitus.’
Vaz said, “The number of people living with diabetes has nearly quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults, with most living in developing countries. In the African region, this has risen from four million to 25 million during the same period,” explaining that in 2012 diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths globally.
The WHO official also hinted that the complications from diabetes could lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation.
However, the prevalence of diabetes on human population has been blamed on factors such as uncontrolled urbanisation, globalisation, and major changes in lifestyle with the prevalence of the lifestyle risk factors. Also, diabetes imposes a substantial public health and socio-economic burden on scare resources, Vaz explained.
“Simple lifestyle measures have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes.
“Effects to prevent and treat diabetes will be important to achieve the global sustainable Development Goal 3 target of reducing premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by one-third by 2030,” he noted, adding that WHO reiterates its commitment to support the prevention and control of diabetes and NTDs in Nigeria.
The Minister of Health, Professor Issac Adewole noted that the focus for this year’s World Health Day campaign was on Diabetes and the theme is ‘Beat Diabetes.’
Adewole said, “Although the aim of the 2016 World Health Day is to scale up diabetes prevention efforts, strengthen the pathway for care delivery and enhance surveillance, this objective is a sub-set of public health service and should not be detached from broader health systems goals.”
The minister, who hinted that the day provided the country the opportunity to take stock of the health system, its challenges and ability to respond to population health needs in a rapidly changing world, said “the Nigerian health system has developed to the point where it is capable of meeting the health needs of a greater proportion of the country’s population, and withstand the challenges of epidemics like HIV, and infectious disease outbreaks, as demonstrated by the country’s response to the recent Ebola epidemic.
“Diabetes remains the commonest endocrine disorder and a major non-communicable disease (NCDs) that causes deaths, serious morbidity and debility.
The national prevalence of diabetes in adults (20-79years), according to the International Diabetes Federation, is put at 1.9 percent in 2015, and of a bigger concern to me is the number of cases of undiagnosed diabetes in adults, which is estimated at 950 per thousand,” he explained.
“We have developed a National Policy and Strategic Plan of Action on NCDs and a National Nutritional Guideline on NCDs Prevention, Control and Management. The latter document lists our local food items with their glycaemic index, which provides Nigerians with information to make informed decision on food choices.”
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engineer Babachir Lawal, who declared open the screening exercise of the incidence of diabetes to mark the day, urged that wide publicity should be given to the disease because of the implications of a healthy society for the development of any nation.