Ghana has been ranked sixth among other Africa countries, according to statistics by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on diabetes between 2016 and 2017.
The Chairperson of International Diabetes Federation of West Africa, also President of National Diabetes Association of Ghana, Elizabeth Esi Denyoh, who made this known at the commemoration of the 2017 World Diabetes Day at Kyebi in the East Akim Municipality of the Eastern Region, explained that it is estimated that undiagnosed diabetes accounts for 60 percent of those with the disease in Cameroon, 70 percent in Ghana and over 80 percent in Tanzania.
She said Ghana, among other Africa countries, counts approximately 13.6 million people with diabetes, which includes sub-Saharan Africa counts over seven million people with diabetes.
According to her, Nigeria has the highest number of 1,218,000 diabetes cases, followed by Uganda and Tanzania.
Speaking further on the theme: ‘Women Unite Against Diabetes’, Mrs Denyoh appealed to the government to reverse the decision of the cancellation of VAT exemptions on all the diabetes drugs because of their high cost in order to enable patients to afford them.
She also called on parliament to take a look at introducing the ‘sin taxes’ to tax fizzy drinks, alcoholic beverages, sweets and cigarettes so that the proceeds would go into the care of non-communicable diseases.
199m Women Diabetics
Dr Charity Sarpong, Eastern Regional Director of Ghana Health Service, disclosed that over 199 million women are currently living with diabetes worldwide.
“This is projected to increase to 313 million by 2040, whereas diabetes is the ninth leading cause of death in women globally, causing 2.1 million deaths per year,” she stressed.
According to Dr Sarpong, women with diabetes Type 2 are almost 10 times more likely to have coronary heart disease than women without the condition, whereas those with the Type 1 have an increased risk of early miscarriage during pregnancy.
She stressed further that in Ghana, about 154,790 are estimated to be living with diabetes in 2016, with Eastern Region recording 22,001 diabetes patients, representing 14 percent of the people diagnosed in the year of preference.
She explained that the disease was killing women at large, especially those who have no knowledge about the disease. She further urged women to go for routine check-ups to know their sugar level and attend health screening exercises for regularly detection to reduce morbidity and mortality, including pregnancy-related deaths.
In a speech read on behalf of Kingsley Aboagye Gyedu, Deputy Minister of Health, he disclosed that the ministry would continue to sure that the health systems pay adequate attention to the specific needs and priorities of women so that those with the diabetes illness will have access to the essential diabetes medicines, self-management education and information they need to achieve diabetes outcomes.
He added, “As a country, our major focus is on the need to educate the general public to be aware of early diabetes and how to prevent diabetes as well as the serious health consequences of the disease.”
“All the diabetes patients and those at risk no matter where they live have the right to learn about diabetes, how it can be prevented, how it can be managed effectively and how to access educational and clinical resources,” Mr Aboagye Gyedu stated.
Nana Ama Dokua Adutwumwaah, queen mother of the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Council, who represented the Okyenhene as the chairperson, in her remarks highlighted that diabetes was becoming very alarming, which calls for an urgent attention.
She urged the public to desist from taking in more sugar and starchy foods but rather eat more vegetables to improve their health in order to reduce the high risk of diabetes.
The Okyenhemaa, however, appealed to the government to intensify campaigns on diabetes to educate the public on means to prevent the disease from spreading.
Diabetes is a serious chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar, or glucose), or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces (WHO, 2016).
It is one of the four priority non-communicable diseases affecting millions of lives yearly. WHO (2016) report states that an estimated 422 million adults were living with diabetes in 2014, compared to 108 million in 1980.
The report also indicates a steady increase in diabetes around the world, the reason being that the disease is not solely a preserve of the rich as considered formally.
Changes in lifestyle behaviours and lifestyle choices have also significantly contributed to this increment.