Health News of Thursday, 15 November 2012
Mr Iddrisu Sow of the World Health Organisation, on Wednesday said the current trend of diabetes in the sub region could only be reversed if Ministries of Health, Civil Societies and communities work together to reduce diabetes risk factors.
He said in recognition of the challenges posed by diabetes and other non communicable diseases, countries in the sub region must look for measures to reduce risk factors such as overweight, obesity, physical inactivity, tobacco use and consumption of food with high content of fat and energy.
He said there was the need to accelerate efforts by creating local and regional awareness of diabetes and empower individuals and societies to prevent it and its many life threatening implications.
Mr Sow made this observation at symposium to mark the 2012 World Diabetes Day celebration on the theme: “diabetes: protect our future”, in Accra.
He said the Day was to remind all of the absolute need to change unhealthy life styles, and promote physical activities and healthy diet as an effective and low cost means to prevent diabetes and thereby protect the future.
He said it is estimated that some 230 million people worldwide currently suffer the disease and this number was likely to be more than double by 2030, if effective interventions were not undertaken, adding that Sub Saharan Africa would witness 98 per cent increase from 12.1 million cases in 2010 to 23.9 million cases in 20230 if the current trend remains.
Mr Sow said “death due to diabetes is common today among people aged 20 to 39 years, the most economically productive segment of the population and survey carried out recently by the WHO indicates that 15 per cent of adults aged 25 to 69 years have diabetes”.
He however noted that the overwhelming majority of affected persons were unaware that they had the disease due to which many cases were diagnosed late usually after complications have become so evident, adding that most of them also lacked access to proper treatment and medicines.
Mr sow called on all member states of the WHO to scale up the development and implementation of comprehensive and integrated diabetes prevention control programmes, reiterating the WHO’s commitment to continue to support them to address the burden of the disease in the region.
Mr Lee Ocran, Minister of Education in a speech read on his behalf said diabetes specific education was important for health care personnel’s and people living with diabetes. He said the day was also to educate the public to be aware of how to recognize the disease early as well as how to access educational and clinical resources for its management.
He said investing in diabetes education and prevention programmes would save the nation money in the long term and also deliver significant returns in the quality of life for people living with the condition as well as those at risk.
Mr Ocran said “the importance of diabetes prevention however cannot be underestimated, hence unless significant efforts are made to curb the rise in diabetes, health care service across the world would soon be crippled by the high cost of treating the disease and its complications”.
Mrs Juliana Azumah Mensah, Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs, said it was important for the disease to be accorded equal national concern as other life threatening diseases including tuberculosis HIV/AIDS among others.
She said the day is for all to pause and reflect critically about the measures to be taken and pursued to prevent the occurrence of the disease especially among young people, adding that the youth must live conscious lives by avoiding deliberate and inadvertent behavioural pattern that could increase their chances of developing the disease.
She noted that government had also rolled out interventions to promote safe public health, especially among the youth, saying as the future human capital of the nation the requisite interventions must be provided to enable them develop.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Kwesi Ahowi also said facilitating food production was a core mandate and plays a key role in the management of diabetes because food comes first before any intervention.
He said agriculture had so much to offer as production activities include physical exercise which was an integral part of managing diabetes, adding that the consumption of imported processed foods with lots of sugar and fat with minimal fibre, must be reduced.
Mr Ahowi cautioned all to take agriculture seriously whatever the size or type. He said people should eat diverse foods which are low in facts and sugar, eat more fruits and vegetables, exercise and seek timely health advice.
He urged the youth to take greater interest in agriculture as a profession for food production which was the backbone of good health and income generation.