…Says recognition of risk factors saves lives
By Sola Ogundipe
On this year’s World Diabetes Day, Nigerians have been enjoined to learn more about diabetes and its avoidable risks to reduce increasing burden of the disease and unnecessary deaths in the country.
The Chairman Board of Trustees, Diabetes Control Media Advocacy Initiative, DICOMAI, Dr. Afoke Isiavwe and Executive Director, Sam Eferaro, DICOMAI, said awareness about the disease remains a key factor in saving the lives of several people walking around in every part of the country who are oblivious of the fact that they have the disease and those already diagnosed who do not know how to manage or control it.
On the theme, “Education to protect tomorrow” DICOMAI said the campaign is to focus on the need for better access to quality diabetes education both for healthcare professionals and people living with diabetes.
The statement called for awareness and recognition of factors such as a family history of diabetes, overweight, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, increasing age, high blood pressure, poor nutrition during pregnancy, impaired glucose tolerance and history of gestational diabetes, all closely associated with type 2 diabetes.
“It’s another period of the year when the world focuses attention on diabetes, a disease that affects about 537 million adults and 1.1 million children worldwide – including more than five million Nigerian adults. Every year, diabetes reportedly kills about 4 million people worldwide and is associated with serious consequences such as stroke, blindness, limb amputation, kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.
“DICOMAI aligns itself with the objective of the theme for this year and hereby calls on all Nigerians to be actively involved in commemorating the event and seize every opportunity to learn about diabetes, it’s dangerous consequences and how to prevent it.
“It is important to note that diabetes is on the increase globally, and one in 10 adults currently lives with it. According to WHO, almost half of about 537 million people living with it worldwide do not know they have it thus, it is estimated that 1 in 2 people currently living with diabetes is undiagnosed.”
About 11.0 million people are living with diabetes in Nigeria, according to UN statistics.
The statement further informed that diabetes remains one of the largest global health emergencies of the 21st century, largely because of its severe and deadly consequences.
“This is a disease that affects virtually all organs of the body, resulting in loss of vision, dental problem, kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, lower limb amputation, sexual dysfunction, among others, when not properly controlled – sadly a situation faced by Nigerians living with diabetes today.
“Yet, many cases of type 2 diabetes, the commonest type, can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle. Also, good control by affected individuals can prevent the deadly consequences of the condition.
“It is in the light of this that DICOMAI urges members of the public to learn more about the warning signs of diabetes and also find out if they are at risk of the disease.
“Also, people living with diabetes need the support of their family to cope with the financial and emotional pressure that accompanies a diabetes diagnosis. There’s a great need to embrace a healthy diet, increased physical activity and maintaining a healthy body weight, all of which can be easily achieved when every member of the family is involved.”
The organisations also observed that awareness about diabetes remains too low in the country, saying this is responsible for the detection of a large number of cases only when complications have set in.
“There’s a great need for everyone to recognise some signs of diabetes so that appropriate action could be taken towards early management, to prevent complications.
“Such signs include: Feeling more thirsty than usual; frequent urination; loss of weight; feeling tired and weak; feeling irritable or having other mood changes; having blurry vision; sores that won’t heal; developing infections, such as gum, skin and vaginal infections, among others.”
DICOMAI therefore called on governments, healthcare providers and other stakeholders to intensify their efforts in providing adequate information to assist the public in recognising the signs and symptoms of the condition and the available preventing options.