DIABETES IN NIGERIA: PROTECTING THE FUTURE (Best International Contribution Award)
Nigeria is an explosively colourful and diverse country, known as the super-power of Africa. However, beneath its captivating beauty, it has the highest number of people affected by diabetes on the planet. An alarming 3 million Nigerians have diabetes, and an additional 3.85 million have impaired glucose tolerance. To place this astounding statistic into a more relative perspective, the entire country of New Zealand has a mere population of 4.4 million citizens. Nigeria has in excess of 6 million people with diabetes and these are only the diagnosed cases.
Nigeria also has the highest diabetes-related mortality rate in Africa, and an additional 344,000 annual deaths are due to undiagnosed diabetes. Why, in 2013 are so many people suffering and dying from a condition that is not longer fatal in Western countries? Global governments seem detached from the real issues of the planet. Priorities need to change. Diabetes awareness needs to be at the forefront of governmental discussions to protect the future of countries like Nigeria.
Understandably there are many other health related conditions in Nigeria. Sufferers of HIV/Aids rightly receive free diagnosis tests and gain some subsidised medication. Unfortunately the money simply isn’t available for patients facing or living with diabetes. They are often unable to gain access to syringes, insulin and monitoring equipment. Without check-ups and education they can also be unaware that they are developing physical complications. If awareness was increased around the country, and communities were encouraged to attend regular medical check-ups, more patients would be healthy and positively managing their conditions and mortality would subsequently decrease.
The introduction of unhealthy Western foods has also led to an increase in cases of type two diabetes. If educated teams could travel to communities and spread information about diet, avoiding or managing diabetes and the complications to look out for, the country would be in a much more positive position and able to conquer the current mortality statistics.
By the year 2030 it is estimated that developing nations will account for over 80% of the global increase of patients with diabetes. In Nigeria the expenditure simply cannot be matched. This rapid growth means that people with diabetes are likely to suffer the most; and unfortunately the healthcare sector will unjustly buckle under the financial strain. It is imperative that awareness programs are initiated now, before funding further decreases.
We need to work together as a planet. If the available money and technology could be spent on proactive education, the numbers of patients with type two diabetes could drastically decrease. This would also have a flow on effect by freeing up funding for the much needed medical supplies for insulin dependent type ones and twos. Positive change stems from awareness and community support, hopefully the future of Nigeria will be protected if positive measures are taken and education could become more far reaching. The citizens of Nigeria deserve to live, be healthy and look forward to a brighter future.