Egg heads in the health sector are seeking ways to effectively manage diabetes in patients as the disease keeps increasing in Nigeria.The forum was the inauguration of a new insulin drug by Sanofi Nigeria in Lagos.President, Union of National African Paediatric Societies and Associations (UNAPSA), Dr Dorothy Esangbedo, said 308 million people across the world are living with the diabetes miletus. Unfortunately, this figure could rise further by 2035 because of lifestyle and urbanisation, she added.
Dr Esangbedo, who spoke on the management of diabetes miletus in children, said the signs and symptoms of diabetes in children are the same in adults.The difference, she said, is that the child cannot complain. “But he will be passing urine and he will have urgent need for drinking water due to thirst. There will be infections and skin lesion. Also, there can be pigmentation of the skin, lack of growth and weight loss,” she said.The expert spoke of gestational diabetes as something that can affect the baby in the future. “So, mother and child should be monitored for the disease in the future. If the babies are delivered where there is no doctor, they may die.”
Diabetes in children, Mrs Esangbedo said, is lower in Africa than Europe and United States but the trend is now on the rise in Nigeria and in a few years to come it is going to be a big problem.She called for advocacy on the disease, adding that awareness should be raised in communities. “Drugs should be made available. Educating people at community level is necessary,” she said.Lifestyle changes, she said, are necessary to bring down the disease burden.Recounting the hospital experience, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Prof Wale Oke, said the prevalent rate of diabetes mellitus in Nigeria is 4.6 per cent.Besides, it is the most common endocrine disease managed by doctors in the country.
Most diabetics, Oke said, come to the hospital when they have complications, especially when it involves the vessel and heart.Diabetes, he said, is the major cause of heart attack, adding that the disease also affects the muscles as well as causing renal failure.There is a diabetic clinic in LASUTH donated by the Lions Club. The state government Free Health Policy takes care of paediatrics cases, that is, children diabetes.Oke said adding: “The state is planning a health insurance policy. Cost would not matter if an enrollee has diabetes as it would be taken care of by the programme, Oke said, adding: “However, it is moving slowly but it is moving.”Consultant physician/endocrinologist at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Prof Babatope Kolawole said the prevalence of diabetes in Nigeria varies from one area to another.Lagos, he said, has seven per cent of the country’s total figure because diabetes is a disease of urbanisation.“The lesser percentage came from a village in Plateau State,” he said.
He identified lifestyle cause, such as what people eat and drink as the major cause of Type 2 diabetes.Exercise, smoking and alcohol are some factor triggering the disease.Diabetes, he said, is a risk factor for heart attack and myocardial infarction, kidney disease and blindness.There are issues related to poorly treated and untreated diabetes cases.Head of Medical Regulatory Sanofi Nigeria/Ghana Dr Inoussa Fifem said the company was doing a lot on the disease, adding that it believes in public-private partnership (PPP).“More importantly, we are calling for decentralisation of management of the disease as experts managing it are too low,” he said.
Fifem said some people had been trained in rural areas and small cities. Therefore, people in local communities have the same level of care like those in the cities.There are plans to train experts, such as General Practitioners (GP) across the country.The company’s policy,Fifem said, is to ensure that quality drugs are available to the people. “We want insulin continuity in terms of supply in Nigeria,” Fifem noted.