Dr Titilola Afolabi
Isolo General Hospital, Lagos
Posted By Admin
World Diabetes Day is celebrated annually on November 14th. It is a day set aside globally to raise awareness on Diabetes. Access to Diabetes Care is the theme for this year.
Access to care is multifaceted. It involves availability of and accessibility to adequate manpower in order to manage the ever increasing number of people being diagnosed with Diabetes. It includes having access to Diabetes education and tools for self monitoring, which all contribute to its management. It also involves accessing medications for Diabetes which unfortunately, is out of reach for many.
The number of people living with Diabetes especially in Sub-Saharan Africa is on the increase and has been projected to rise even further. This may be attributed to our adoption of a westernized diet and lifestyle. This increase will further stretch an already overwhelmed healthcare sector.
Unfortunately for us, the number of doctors available to take care of the population in Nigeria today remains inadequate. This, in addition to the increasing population in Nigeria paints a dire picture. In other words, many people may not have access to healthcare professionals or facilities, thereby making diagnosis and management of Diabetes difficult.
This is indeed quite grave because in addition to this, we have a high disease burden and limited financial resources.
Quite a number of people with Diabetes are within the working age bracket. Frequent sick days lead to loss in productivity. This puts us as a nation in a very difficult position, as the attendant economic implications of this is enormous not only to the individual but to the nation at large.
Access to medications for those with established Diabetes is another major barrier in this part of the world. It’s either the medications are simply not available or affordable.
These problems though many are not insurmountable. What we need are all hands on deck. More targeted funding in the healthcare sector can help mitigate against inadequate manpower and healthcare facilities. Funding from global health organizations should be increased to developing nations which should go towards achieving universal health coverage. Preventive measures such as healthy lifestyle and nutrition cannot be over-emphasized on a national and global scale. This can be done by formulating and implementing policies that promote making healthy choices. The pharmaceutical industry can help in ensuring medications are available and affordable by providing them at subsidized rates to resource poor countries. Testing and monitoring kits for blood sugar should be readily available at reduced costs.
On an individual level, each and everyone of us should get the information out there on the importance of lifestyle changes including exercise and healthy eating to reduce the risk of Diabetes. We also need to stress the importance of screening and seeking medical care.
The time to change this narrative is now and yes, we can.