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Half of Africans living with diabetes, says WHO

…Calls for early diagnosis, treatment
As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to observe World Diabetes Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed that half of the people living with diabetes type 2 in the continent are neither unaware of the disease nor receive treatment.

While calling for early diagnosis and treatment, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said about 90 percent of diabetes are type 2 which according to him may cause blindness, kidney failure, lower limb amputations and other complications, if not properly managed.

Speaking while addressing journalists in commemoration with World Diabetes Day 2018 in Abuja on Tuesday, Dr. Moeti lamented that the occurrence of type 2 diabetes has risen dramatically in all countries of all income levels since 1980.

Represented by the country director, Dr Clement Peter, Moeti disclosed that the African Region has experienced a six-fold increase, from four million in 1980 to 25 million in 2014.

This, according to her, was due to aging populations and lifestyle changes, including unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity. “Overweight and obesity are the strongest risk factors for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other noncommunicable diseases.

“Early diagnosis and treatment are important for preventing complications of diabetes. Since diabetes can potentially strike any family, awareness of the signs, symptoms and risk factors is important to help detect it early.

“Having diabetes can also drain family finances when people with diabetes have to pay out of their own pockets for treatment. Disability or premature death due to diabetes can push families into poverty. Diabetes is also a huge burden on the health care system and the national economy”, Dr. Moeti said.

She added that world leaders in a bid to curb the menace to the barest minimum have agreed to take responsibility for their countries to help prevent and treat noncommunicable diseases, including diabetes.

According to her, world leaders have reiterated their commitment to implement public education and awareness campaigns to empower individuals and families with information and education to prevent diseases like type 2 diabetes, and ensure that people have access to early detection, diagnosis and treatment.

“Governments should accelerate access to such services for everyone, through people-centred primary health care and universal health coverage”. He further reaffirmed WHO continuous support to governments to improve the prevention and control of diabetes and other noncommunicable diseases.

“I urge everyone to eat healthily, be physically active and avoid excessive weight gain. Families can help to drive down diabetes through promoting healthy lifestyles and supporting family members with diabetes.

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