THE World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) recently raised the alarm over the rising cases of diabetes worldwide. The duo revealed that the number of people with the disease rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.
They also said that the global prevalence of diabetes among adults over 18 years of age had risen from 4.7 per cent in 1980 to 8.5 per cent in 2014. Based on this, the number of Nigerians living with the disease is put at 15.3 million. Diabetes prevalence, they observed, has been rising more rapidly in middle-and low-income countries, stressing that the disease is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and limb amputation.
The prevalence of diabetes in Nigeria is varied. According to the Diabetes Association of Nigeria, the prevalence varies from 0.65 per cent in rural Mangu in the North, 6.8 per cent in Port Harcourt to 11.0 per cent in urban Lagos. Diabetes is associated with a high morbidity and mortality in the country.
In 2012, they noted, an estimated 1.5 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes and another 2.2 million deaths were attributable to high blood glucose, and almost half of all deaths attributable to high blood glucose occur before the age of 70 years.
In WHO’s projection, diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death in 2030. However, it cautioned that healthy diet, regular physical activities, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco use are some ways to prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
The global health agency also said that diabetes can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with diet, physical activities, medication and regular screening as well as treatment for complications. Also, two recent independent studies have stated that combined effect of regular exercise and quitting the intake of sugary beverages can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 80 per cent.
In the same vein, other researchers have confirmed that walking briskly or cycling for the recommended 150 minutes a week can reduce a person’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by up to 26 per cent. Also, studies from two UK universities have revealed that people who carry out an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise every day can reduce their risk of getting Type 2 diabetes by 40 per cent.
The global picture of diabetes menace is indeed worrisome. And, Nigeria’s burden of the disease is also scary. We bemoan the rising cases of diabetes in the country. Government at all levels must rise up to the challenge of increasing diabetes burden and stem its menace.
Although the government has reportedly outlined six crucial strategies to reduce the risk factors associated with diabetes and non-communicable diseases in the country, it should go beyond policy pronouncement.
There is urgent need for increased monitoring and surveillance systems, improved access to care and sustainable financing for management of diabetes in the country. Government should adopt and implement global framework that focuses on strengthening data collection for the global burden of the disease. It should embark on enlightenment programmes to inform the public about the risk factors of diabetes and how to prevent them.
We urge the three tiers of government to improve their health funding. To prevent diabetes, Nigerians are enjoined to maintain a healthy weight, eat healthy food and remain physically active. Diabetes patients are advised to adhere to doctor’s advice and keep appointments with them.
They should also learn and identify the risk factors associated with diabetes and avoid them. Let all stakeholders work in concert with government to reduce the increasing diabetes burden in the country.