October 17, 2017

Sanofi moves to rescue 5m Nigerians from diabetes

…Holds National Summit Oct18

By Chioma Obinna

Healthcare professionals, weekend in Lagos raised the alarm over increasing cases of diabetes saying not less than 5 million Nigerians are living with the disease.

To this end, a National Diabetes Summit to improve management of the chronic disease and patient outcome is being put together by Sanofi Aventis Nigeria Limited in Lagos.

At a press conference to herald the maiden edition of the Summit, the Medical Director, Sanofi -Nigeria & Ghana, Dr Philip Ikeme said 50 per cent of diabetes cases are undiagnosed while half of people who have diabetes do not know they have the disease.

Ikeme worried that diabetes has become a global public health concern called for special attention to the problem.

“According to WHO as at 2014, we have a burden of 387 million globally but in 2035, the number will increase to almost 600 million.”

He blamed reasons for the increase on crave for artificial foods instead of natural foods and other unhealthy lifestyles.  “People no longer exercise that means there is increase in obesity and when obesity sets in, the ability to manage the blood sugar becomes more difficult. Things like this push us towards the diabetic end of the spectrum.”

He regretted that, three years ago, South Africa and Ethiopia have more diabetes than Nigeria but now; Nigeria has the highest incidence of diabetes in Sub Saharan Africa.

He warned that diabetes is a silent disease, hence, the need for regular screening for the disease.

Ikeme further explained that due to the nature of the disease, by the time patient gets to the hospital to complain about the symptoms of diabetes which he or she may have had unknowingly for minimum of 10 years or an average 15 to 20 years, the person must have had abnormalities in the blood sugar for a minimum of 5 to 10 years which is why at the time of presentation; majority of the patients have complications.

Complications of diabetes include diabetic foot, heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney disease among others.

Noting that diabetes is a major cause of amputation, he said 9 out 10 amputations are due to diabetes. “Diabetes is not a disease you can cure but can be treated and managed. If treated well, the patients will have a normal life like anybody else.  It is also a disease where patients have more responsibility than the physician.”

The General Manager and Country Chair, Sanofi, Nigeria- Ghana, Pharm. Folake Odediran, said the Summit is in line with the company’s vision as a global healthcare organisation involved in prevention, treatment and support for patients in 100 countries of the world.

“The Summit is being organised for three reasons including providing education platform for diabetic management. Provide platform for experts to meet and rub minds, update themselves as well as strengthen management by engaging in robust discussion that can improve management and patients’ outcome.

Various experts including nurses, specialist doctors, family physicians, diabetologists etc are expected to be at the summit to learn latest trend in managing diabetes.