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General News of Monday, 20 November 2000

Source: GNA

Health officials ask Ghanaians to adopt healthy lifestyles

The 10th anniversary celebrations of World Diabetes Day took place in Accra on Saturday with calls on Ghanaians to adopt healthy lifestyles to delay the onset of diabetes, a leading cause of death and ill-health in the country.

In a speech read for him, Prof. Kwaku Danso-Boafo, Minister of Health, said stress, more fast foods and less physical activities are responsible for the rising incidence of the disease, which is now a major cause of admissions in the country.

In 1998 there were 1,552 cases of admission in Korle Bu Teaching Hospital but this figure rose to 4,495 last year.

"The Time when obesity was seen as a sign of affluence was gone," the health minister said, adding: "Wise food choices is a key to prevention of diabetes."

This year's celebration is under the theme: "diabetes and lifestyle in the new millennium." There are over 140 million diabetes patients globally. This figure is expected to rise to 300 million by the year 2025.

Diabetes, characterised by high glucose levels in the blood, is responsible for complications, such as blindness, kidney failure, and cardiovascular diseases. It is a leading cause of amputation of limbs, second only to accidents.

Currently, there is a steep rise of the disease in Ghana, with the national prevalence being pegged at four per cent. There are 30,000 cases in the country but health officials say the figure could be higher due to under reporting at health facilities. Prof. Danso-Boafo said the Ministry has placed diabetes high on its agenda.

"Under the ministry's five-year plan of action, diabetes has been short-listed for intervention," he said. Dr Francis Offei, President of the Ghana Diabetes Association, called for the training of more nutritionists and dieticians and labelling of foods sold to the public to help people make informed choices on their diets.

He said regular blood glucose testing should be made compulsory as a means to curb the rising incidence of the condition.