Written by Ndidi Chukwu
As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark this year’s World Diabetes Day, the Federal Government has said that over Five Million Nigeria adults are diabetic. Supervising Minister of Health, Dr Khaliru Alhassan disclosed this during a press conference to commemorate World Diabetes Day celebrated on the 14th of November this year. Alhassan said less than 50 percent out of this five million are aware of their condition, a situation he described as “worrisome and disheartening” but noted that is committed to promoting healthy living for diabetes prevention and control in Nigeria.
“It is disheartening to know that more than 80 percent of diabetes related deaths occur in low and middle income countries including Nigeria. An estimated five million adult Nigerians have diabetes and less than 50 percent of them are aware of their condition.”
Alhassan said the awareness which comes with the commemoration of the diabetes day gives the opportunity to “galvanize support” for the prevention and control of diabetes and thus the theme “Healthy Living and Diabetes” for 2014.
He further said the theme is in line with the Federal Government’s commitment towards promotion of healthy living for diabetes prevention and control in Nigeria.
“Diabetes is increasingly becoming an epidemic in Nigeria, among adolescents and young adults, this is partly due to the rapid socio-cultural change being experienced in most developing countries leading to adoption of new lifestyle and risky behaviours”
The minister identified risk factors for diabetes as excessive tobacco use, unhealthy nutrition, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol, “the clustering of these risk factors in an individual predisposes him or her to diabetes and other non-communicable diseases” said Alhassan
In his goodwill message, country representative of the World Health Organisation, Dr. Rui Gama Vaz, urged Nigerian Government to put in place effective measures for the surveillance, prevention and control of diabetes and its complications. Vaz who was represented by, Dr. Mary Stevens said provision of scientific guideline for diabetes prevention for Nigeria will be useful. WHO also urged Nigeria to develop norms and standards for diabetes diagnosis and care, build awareness on epidemic and conduct surveillance of diabetes and its risk factors
“Diabetes is on the increase in Nigeria, it is becoming a scourge with Nigeria bearing the highest rate in Sub Saharan Africa. Most come with great complication, and the patients die due to lack of care, that is why we want everybody to go for screening and know their status” said Dr. Sani Chineye of Diabetic Association of Nigeria. He called on the need for active primary health system to able to dictate and manage them before they die.