About four million Ghanaians are estimated to be suffering from diabetes while the number is reported to be increasing on a daily basis.
In 2013, approximately 8,300 people died from the disease in Ghana while 5,000 people were killed by the disease in 2015.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Awutu Senya West Constituency in the Central Region, Mr George Andah as part of efforts to create awareness about the disease.
Statistics recorded by the Centre for Non-Communicable Diseases indicates that 90 percent of all cases are not diagnosed early in order to ensure early treatment.
Additionally, 70 percent of all diabetes cases are diagnosed only after death.
The month of November has been set aside globally to create awareness about diabetes.
The world diabetes awareness campaign was initiated by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1991.
Below is the full statement:
STATEMENT BY NENYI GEORGE ANDAH (MP) ON THE ANNUAL NOVEMEBER WORLD DIABETES MONTH.
Friends, Partners in Change, please lend your eyes (ears) to make this statement In recognition of the November Diabetes Awareness Month.
The world diabetes awareness campaign was initiated by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization(WHO) in 1991. In 2006 it was adopted as an official awareness day by the UN in a bid to help address the rapid occurrences globally, and it remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
Diabetes mellitus commonly referred to as diabetes is a chronic, often debilitating and sometimes fatal disease which normally occurs when there are metabolic disorders in ones system which results in high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period.
Ghana is not immune to this escalating rise in the disease. It is estimated approximately 4 million Ghanaians are currently living with the disease, with these numbers increasing daily. In 2013, approximately 8,300 people in Ghana died from the disease and in 2015 it was responsible for 5,000 deaths. Statistics recorded by the Centre for Non-Communicable Diseases show that 90% of all cases are not diagnosed early in order to ensure early treatment and 70% of all cases are diagnosed only after death. This paints a clear picture of the seriousness of the issue and why it must have our full attention.
There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes, often referred to as insulin dependent, is caused when the pancreas does not produce insulin, a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in the blood. Without insulin, sugar builds up in the blood instead of being used for energy.
Type 1 is present in about 10% of diabetic cases and they require daily intake of insulin to survive. This type is usually not preventable, but can be managed.
Type 2 diabetes or adult onset diabetes, as it is commonly known, usually develops before ones fortieth year, however recent changes in lifestyle is making this type also prevalent in children. The risk also increases with family history. Type 2 occurs when the body is unable to use or does not make enough insulin and can often be managed with medication, proper diet and physical exercise. It can be preventable with adequate awareness and lifestyle changes, when it is at the pre-diabetic stage.
Gestational diabetes affects women during pregnancy. Although temporary, there is an increased risk of developing diabetes in later years, for both mother and child.
Diabetes symptoms varies from person to person and may include the following.
Unusual thirst; Intense hunger; Frequent urination; Weight change (gain or loss); Extreme Fatigue or lack of energy; Slow healing cuts or bruises; Numbness and tingling of hands and feet.
Symptoms in children include: thirst and frequent urination, starting to wet the bed again and lack of energy.
Presence of the disease can lead to other health complications such as;
Eye, kidney and nerve damage, stroke, heart attack, hypertension, gum disease, foot problems leading to amputation if not managed properly, and sometimes erectile disfunction in men.
Although living with diabetes may be seem daunting and hopeless due to the complications, there are means of managing the disease that can have a person live a long and normal life, or in some cases improve their illness. Most long-term complications can be avoidable and it is easier to manage the disease than to deal with complications after they develop.
In addition to insulin injections, Type 1 diabetics can further manage their disease with regular medical checkups to ensure adequate sugar levels, maintaining a balanced healthy diet and regular exercise.
Type 2 diabetics can control and improve their condition by losing weight (if overweight), a healthy diet, monitoring blood sugar levels in addition to insulin in tablet form. In some instances as one ages, and the disease progresses, insulin injections may also be required.
Gestational diabetes can be regulated by eating a balanced diet, regular exercise, monitoring sugar levels and regular pre-natal medical checkups.
Despite the measures that can help manage the disease, the singularly most important factor is prevention (in the case of the very common Type 2) and early detection.
The commemoration of the World Diabetes Month 2017 was launched at Big Ada, in the Greater Accra Region with over 34,000 people tested. Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Alex Segbefia, reiterated various initiatives put in place by the government to ensure the awareness and prevention of the disease. These initiatives included: the development of a Non-communicable Diseases Policy and Strategic Plan, and the intensification of public health education on diabetes. Issues such as the rising cost of insulin and other medication for those living with diabetes as well as glucose test and strips for self-testing were pointed out as having an effect on how well patients can manage the disease.
As a type 2 diabetic with a family history on both my maternal and paternal side and living with the disease for the past 15 years, I can speak first hand and am a strong advocate of the need for these government policies.
In addition to these initiatives, a review in the reduction of costs for diabetic medication and its effective complications, for example hypertension, must also be addressed.
Many people are limited by the cost of the medication and as a result choose to go without, often leading to death. Costs can range upwards to 200GHC/week for diabetic medication, far above the wage of the average Ghanaian. This I believe causes the unnecessary and unfortunate demise as a result, and I am urging the government to include regulatory measures on the pharmacies, by perhaps allowing for importing and selling of approved generic medication as alternatives to brand name in a cost saving measure the pharmacies can pass onto the patients.
It is however comforting to know that efforts to deal with this disease has not been left as the sole responsibility of the government. Individuals and organizations are all contributing to the fight against diabetes in Ghana and we commend and applaud all their efforts in helping alleviate and manage the disease.
More than anything else we as a people are put to ease with the thought that no single disease is being given precedence over the other and all are being tackled with the same amount of effort to promote education, early detection, prevention and management and in some cases eradication of the diseases in Ghana.
Long live the fourth republic and may Ghana and all her citizens enjoy the best of health as our fight against diabetes rages on.