By Chioma Obinna
Irked by the spike in the number of people dying from diabetes, healthcare professionals have called on the federal government to subsidise cost of management, both medications, and monitoring devices, to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians living with the condition.
The healthcare professionals made the call while raising concerns over the high number of needless deaths from diabetes-related illness in a webinar organised by Novo Nordisk to mark 2020 World Diabetes Day, WDD.
The speakers at the webinar submitted that the cost of antidiabetic drugs and monitoring devices has risen beyond the reach of many Nigerians living with the disease and they can no longer achieve diabetes control as recommended by the International Diabetes Federation.
Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Prof. Antonia Ogbera, said a lot of people, both children and adults have died because they cannot afford medications.
Speaking on the topic: “The rising burden of diabetes: the facts, the figures and the drivers of the disease in Nigeria” Ogbera said 19 million adults are living with diabetes in Africa and by 2045, the figure could rise to 47 million.
“Globally, 463 million people have diabetes and by 2045, it is estimated that 700 million people will have it.
In 2015, she said about 5.0 million people died in Africa from this ailment.
She noted that South Africa and Nigeria are the top countries in Africa with the highest cases of diabetes in adults with 4.6 and 2.7.
According to Ogbera, 63,958 were estimated to have died from the diabetes-related disease in Nigeria and about 60 percent of diabetes mellitus in Nigeria are undiagnosed.
On the drivers she said: “The drivers of the epidemic in Nigeria are behavioural and lifestyle factors, urbanization, and health system-related issues.” To cut the spike, Ogbera said screening and diagnosis at primary healthcare must be scaled up.
“Scale-up health education using different channels such as radio, television, print and social media.Treat patient to target, conduct national prevalence survey, and ensure access to medication at primary care level.”
Also, a Consultant Endocrinologist and Diabetologist at the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, ESUTH, Dr Ejiofor Ugwu, advocated subsidy for medications noting that the drugs are too expensive.
He observed that diseases such as HIV/AIDS and TB are currently being subsidized and wondered why diabetes which affects more people, also kills more people annually and with numerous serious complications is yet to be considered for subsidy by the government.
Speaking, the Business Unit Head, Novo Nordisk English West Africa Mr. Jude Abonu said the company, in line with the ideals of the International Diabetes Federation, believes that nurses can make the difference as they provide the much-needed personalized care that people living with diabetes depend on.
He said Novo Nordisk, in collaboration with its partners, has sought to improve the lives of people living with diabetes in Nigeria through its Base of the Pyramid (BoP) project to ensure improved access to quality care and treatment for people in low-and middle-income countries.
The partners, he said, include local health authorities, the Christian Health Association of Nigeria, and Roche Diabetes Care, over 60,000 people have been reached through awareness, education, and screening in communities with over 15,000 patients registered at Diabetes Support Centers established in partnership with public secondary health facilities where diabetes support services are provided to patients.