NIGERIA joined the rest of the world to mark the 2022 World Diabetes Day (WDD) on Monday, which brought up the need for wider social awareness of diabetes – its causes, symptoms, prevention, management and medication. The WDD offered opportunity for learning more about the disease and its avoidable risks, how to reduce the increasing burden of the disease and unnecessary deaths it brings about around the world.
DIABETES is on the increase globally. One in 10 adults currently lives with it. It is a disease that affects about 537 million adults and 1.1 million children worldwide – including more than five million Nigerian adults. Reports say that diabetes kills about four million people worldwide and is associated with serious consequences such as stroke, blindness, limb amputation, kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.
ACCORDING to World Health Organisation (WHO), almost half of about 537 million people living with it worldwide do not know they have it. It is therefore, estimated that one in two people currently living with diabetes is undiagnosed.
IT 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.
ALTHOUGH many cases of Type 2 diabetes, the commonest type, can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle, majority of Nigerians and Africans still suffer severe consequences of the disease and even death due to ignorance.
THIS is why National Light views the theme of this year’s WDD, ‘Education to Protect Tomorrow,’ which focuses on the need for better access to qualitative education both for healthcare professionals and people living with diabetes as apt. We call on all Nigerians to seize every available opportunity to learn about diabetes, its dangerous consequences and how to prevent it.
THERE is no doubt that awareness about the disease remains a key factor in saving the lives of several people walking around oblivious of the fact that they have it and those already diagnosed who do not know how to manage or control it.
WITH factors such as genetic links, 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 being closely associated with Type 2 diabetes which is common in the tropical region and some other parts of the world, one can easily connect the predominant intake of carbohydrate foods to why diabetes is prevalent in the area.
IT IS therefore tantamount to mass suicide if in such a diabetes endemic part of the world like Nigeria, the most lucrative business is brewery and beverage industries. It shows that the people’s feeding habit is part of the problem. In situations where food vendors sell all -carbohydrate meals, and one barely sees proteinous foods, how will people not be diabetic?
WE CALL on agencies in charge of health enlightenment, monitoring and standardisation, as well as government, particularly National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to begin to work towards ensuring there is control in the quantity of sugar in people’s diet. The agencies should ensure that breweries and sugary beverage drink producers and manufacturers reduce the quantity of sugar they serve the public in their brew as that contributes in killing people through diabetes.
There is also a need to return to original natural foods. Nigeria has enough lands to farm and we should start grooming children from childhood to adopt eating original and healthier foods to reduce the risk of developing the disease.
IT’S EQUALLY time government and agencies invested in finding a cure or immunisation against diabetes. While we call on health activists, civil society organisations and government to take up the task of enlightenment on healthy lifestyles to avoid getting the disease and best ways of control by affected individuals to prevent the deadly consequences of the condition, we urge individuals not to shy away from coming out when they have the disease so that they will get better cure or be advised on better management of the disease.
ABOVE all, people living with diabetes need the support of their families to cope with the financial and emotional pressure that accompany diabetes cases. There’s a great need to embrace a healthy diet, increased physical activity and maintain a healthy body weight, all of which can be easily achieved when every member of the family is involved and assisting the ailer. There’s a great need for everyone to recognise some signs of diabetes so that appropriate action could be taken early in management and prevention of complications.