Diabetes: Reducing Burden Of Silent Killer

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Mr Tunde Fomoye thought himself to be very healthy until five years ago.
“ I took it upon myself to share my story because it takes the grace of God for you to survive diabetes.
“In 2013, I was on night duty in my office when I started shivering; I managed till the morning when I went to a hospital.
“After the initial medication, the fever continued and I was having some pains under my feet; it was checked and something was inside; a tiny piece of glass was removed and pus was coming out.
“The next day, I went back to the hospital and showed them the glass; the doctor said I should go and check my blood pressure and it was found to be high; it was `crashed’.
“Three weeks later, it got very bad; I was referred to a general hospital where I was admitted; I was found with diabetes and ended up with a limb amputation,’’ the former company  worker narrates.
According to Famoye, life has not been the same because of constant medication, medical bills and being out of job.
“However, I am glad and grateful to God for being alive,” he says.
An endocrinologist, Dr Afoke Isiavwe, notes that diabetes is a worldwide problem and that is why the UN has set aside Nov.14 and now, the whole November annually to raise awareness on Diabetes Mellitus.
“The awareness is necessary because all the complications can be prevented through proper management.
“Diabetes, popularly known in Yoruba as `ito sugar’ is not strange; it is common and occurs when the body cannot handle blood sugar.
“Diabetes occurs when there are raised levels of glucose in the blood because the body cannot produce any or enough of the hormone, insulin, or use insulin effectively,’’ she explains.
Isiavwe, discloses that a symptom of diabetes is frequent urination.
“Other symptoms include sudden weight loss, wounds that won’t heal, especially foot wounds, erectile dysfunction in men, low libido, frequent thirst and recurrent boils.
“For women, they may find out that every time they get pregnant, they have a still birth, the baby dies in the womb or they have very large babies.’’
According to the endocrinologist, who is the Medical Director of Rainbow Specialist Medical Centre, Lekki , there are different sub-types of diabetes, including the Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational diabetes.
Isiavwe believes that, worldwide, there is a lot of data on diabetes but in Nigeria, there is a dearth of it.
“Currently, we have 16 million people and it is extrapolated that by 2045, we will have 41 million people living with diabetes, which represents an increment of 156 per cent.
“For developed countries, they have a hold of it at 35 per cent and Europe is just 16 per cent.
“The low and middle income countries such as those in Middle East and Africa are the ones that will be battling with diabetes, especially as four out of five people with diabetes live in low and middle income countries,” she said.
On solutions to addressing the incidence of diabetes, she believes there is a need to have a national diabetes registry.
“It is going to help us with planning, registration and allocation; in developed countries, they plan for the present and future.
“Screening is another good way because it picks up people who have symptoms; half of the people with diabetes do not know they have diabetes because it is called the silent killer.
“We need to adopt a healthy lifestyle; our eating habit has changed because we are doing fast foods and pastries.
“We need to watch what we are putting in our children’s lunch boxes and on the table for everybody to eat.
“ In addition to eating healthy meals, families should learn to exercise together.’’
The endocrinologist believes  that knowledge is important, especially if one has a family history of diabetes, so as to learn about diabetes, the risks, symptoms, complications and how to prevent them.
“There is also need to live in an environment that supports healthy lifestyle; if you stay in a storey building, you can go up and down.
“If you work in an office environment and are always sitting down, you can move around and stretch.
“Eighty per cent of cases of Type 2 diabetes are preventable through the adoption of a healthy life style; 70 per cent of premature deaths among adults are largely due to behaviour initiated during adolescence,” she argues.
The expert emphasises the need to teach children how to eat right, and be active.
“If they have different clubs, sports, encourage them to participate,’’ she urges.
Mr Sam Efaroro, a media consultant and publisher of the Nigeria Health Online,  lives with diabetes.
According to him, he was able to recognise the signs of diabetes having attended a workshop on diabetes few years ago. He went to a hospital and  was diagnosed with diabetes. He began treatment with an endocrinologist and today, he lives a normal life with moderation and observes a healthy lifestyle.
“Diabetes management requires daily treatment, regular monitoring, healthy lifestyle, education and family support.
“It is also very essential that diabetes medications and disposables be accessible and affordable.
“The government needs to put policies in place that will make importation of diabetes medication duty-free; that way, it will get to the end user at an affordable price,’’ Efararo says.
Mrs Susan Snell, Head of Roche Diabetes Care, Sub-Sahara Africa calls for structured testing of blood glucose in the management of diabetes.
“It is important to have structured testing of blood glucose as a necessary measure a patient must take to achieve control of the disease.
“ Roche has been involved in diabetes patients care for 40 years by providing the Accu-check blood sugar measurement which they could use at home or anywhere they are.
“The Accu-chek device is a “tailor-made diabetes self-management solution” designed to help people with diabetes to manage their condition and  enhance quality of life,’’ Snell explains.
On World Diabetes Day, Victoria Ibanga, general secretary , Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), says the media has a major role to play in creating awareness about the disease and shaping public opinion.
Ibanga, who spoke on behalf of the President of NGE, Mrs. Funke Egbemode, says: “As the fourth estate of the realm, it is the responsibility of the media to call governments to account and provide good leadership to the benefit of the populace.
“Nigerian governments both at federal and state levels should tell us how much has been achieved in the last one year or long years since the declaration of the day in 1991.
“It is also our responsibility and business to speak the truth to authorities especially in areas like health, which they have failed.
“We have a responsibility to ask questions about the budget for the health sector; how much is allocated, how much is implemented and how does it benefit the low and middle income communities?
“We have a responsibility to spread to the rural communities and provide them information and options, especially on ways to detect symptoms of diseases.”
She says as watch dogs, the media could  bring about change in the society by embarking on extensive campaign to create awareness on the rising cases of diabetes.

Ihechu writes for the News Agency of Nigeria.