By Ayodamola Owoseye
More than 25 million people in Africa live with type II diabetes, more than half of whom are unaware of their status and are not being treated, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
The regional director of the International Health Agency for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said this at a press conference held at the official WHO Nigeria office in Abuja in memory of the World Diabetes Day.
She said that more than 90 percent of diabetes is type II diabetes, and stresses that diabetes, if not well-regulated, can lead to blindness, renal failure, lower limb amputation, and other complications.
World Diabetes Day is celebrated on November 14 to create awareness of the disease and educate people about the need for regular medical check-ups to prevent or treat the disease.
This year is the theme of the celebration "Family and Diabetes".
Mr Moetti, who was presented at a press conference by a representative in Nigeria, Clement Peter, emphasized that the topic highlights the impact of diabetes on individuals and families and the important role they play in preventing and controlling the disease.
Diabetes is one of the most deadly non-communicable diseases in the world. In 2015, 1.6 million deaths were directly related to diabetes, and another 2.2 million deaths were attributed to high blood glucose levels in 2012.
Diabetes is a serious, persistent disease in which blood sugar is elevated. Perhaps this is due to a pancreas that does not produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes), or the body can not efficiently use the insulin it produces (type 2 diabetes).
Mr Peters said that the African Government must step up access to healthcare services through primary health care, centered on people, and general health care. This is, he said, highly needed, as the region increased by 6 percent in six cases, from 4 million in 1980 to 25 million in 2014.
He attributed the increase in population aging and changes in lifestyle, including unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity.
In his words, the incidence of Type II diabetes has increased dramatically in all countries of all income levels since 1980, while overweight and obesity are the most potent risk factors for type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other non-communicable diseases.
He said that the disease always has a strong impact on the family, so the international agency chose the family as a part of their topic for that year.
Peter said that early diagnosis and treatment is important for the prevention of complications of diabetes.
"Because diabetes can potentially strike every family, awareness of signs, symptoms and risk factors is important for early diagnosis of the disease. Diabetes can also exhaust family finances when people with diabetes need to pay from their pockets for treatment.
"While family genes can be a cause of diabetes, family support can be a key benefit for people with diabetes. For example, families can choose to buy and serve a healthy and balanced diet, promote participation in physical activity and promote a healthy living environment .
"Invalidity or premature death due to diabetes can push families into poverty. Diabetes is also a major burden on the health care system and the national economy," he said.
The doctor, Tavershima Adongo, who talks about the dangers of not getting an early and consistent treatment of diabetes, believes that diabetes quickly becomes one of the largest non-communicable diseases with a high degree of co-morbidity (disabling conditions), which can be difficult to manage due to limited resources and low awareness of patients / carers.
He said that children and adults are suspected, and pregnant women have a greater chance of becoming diabetic.
"People living with diabetes need to take medication every day and go to regular medical examinations, because effects, if not verified, can cause many eyes, hands and feet, kidneys and brain problems for many. The average family in Nigeria can they spend about half of their monthly household expenditure on treating a family member with diabetes.
"As one of my patients said," HIV patients are better than me, I have to spend a lot of money on these drugs and tests ", which refer to free HIV medicines that HIV / AIDS patients receive.
"It would be good for us to develop a framework to fully support people living with this disease in order to help with early diagnosis, access to medicines and social support services," Adongo said.