This year’s World Diabetes Day was celebrated in Accra and Koforidua at the weekend, with a call for the establishment of a diabetes council to take charge of diabetes prevention and the treatment of patients.
Speaking at the event in Koforidua, the President of the National Diabetes Association of Ghana, Mrs Elizabeth Esi Denyoh, said about two million people were living with the disease in the country, while undiagnosed diabetes accounted for 70 per cent of those with the disease.
In view of the increasing rate of diabetes, she said, the establishment of the council would help in the national effort to contain the disease.
Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas in which the body cannot properly control the amount of sugar in the blood because it does not have enough insulin.
A diagnosis of diabetes is suspected when an individual experiences increased thirst, increased urination, fatigue and tiredness, weight loss despite increased appetite, blurred vision, increased yeast infection and delayed healing of wounds.
The Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Victor Bampoe, in a speech read on his behalf, said diabetes had become a public health issue that needed prompt attention through education, the promotion of healthy diet, exercising, the total avoidance of alcohol, among other health regimes.
He said uncontrolled diabetes might lead to problems with the eye, nerves and sometimes the leg or limbs, which could result in leg amputation.
The Eastern Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Charity Sarpong, said a check at the Koforidua Regional Hospital revealed that the district clinic was recording about 25 to 30 cases monthly and the ages of the affected ranged from 11 to 70 years.
She said the Health Ministry was poised to ensure that the public was given adequate information to enable them to make informed choices at all times and to adopt healthy lifestyles.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Ghana, Dr Sally Ann Ohene, observed that one of the many challenges countries faced in tackling diabetes was limited public awareness of the disease.
In Accra, Emelia Ennin Abbey reports that a similar event was organised in the national capital to mark the day, which was on the theme, “Healthy eating and diabetes”.
Speaking at the event, Dr Samuel Asumani Yeboah, a diabetes and endocrinology specialist, advised diabetic patients to seek early treatment and encouraged the public to undergo regular medical examination to safeguard their health.
Dr Yeboah, who is also the Founder of the Yeboah Hospital and Diabetes and Endocrinology Centre at East Legon in Accra, said early diagnosis and controlling of a patient’s sugar level were key to the management of the disease.
Although he did not provide figures, he said an increasing number of people were living with diabetes in Ghana.
According to him, the situation was partly because of inactivity or sedentary lifestyles, excessive consumption of alcohol and poor eating habits.
The Team Leader of Diabetes Youth Care, a unit at the Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital, Western Region, that provides education and medical support for young people with chronic diseases, Dr Nana Ama Barnes, said eating the right food was very essential for diabetes control.
She advised that diabetic patients should avoid fatty foods, eat more fruits and vegetables and drink water, instead of beverages with high calories.