The influx of sugar-sweetened beverages on the Ghanaian market id posing harm to the public and contributing to increase in diabetes among children, says Dr. Efua Commeh, Programme Manager of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) at the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
Dr. Commeh said data from four regions; Greater Accra, Ashanti, Eastern and Central region, indicates that nearly 1,000 children are living with type-one diabetes with at least 200,000 people diagnosed of diabetes in Ghana annually.
“Currently, the prevalence of diabetes is between six and nine per cent. These are people who come through our systems and can be captured but there are more outside who may not know their status, and that is why we encourage everyone to adopt healthy lifestyle; eat healthy, do physical activities and screen regularly for your blood sugar level because everyone is at risk,” she said.
The NCD Programme Manager gave the advice at the commemoration of the 2022 World Diabetes Day (WDD) in Accra, yesterday.
Themed, “Access to diabetes care-education to protect tomorrow,” this year’s WDD highlights the need for greater education on the part of health workers and general public to better detect, diagnose and manage the condition for improved life.
Dr. Commeh said people with family history of diabetes mellitus (DM), have a parent or sibling with DM, were aged 45 years and above, obese, physically inactive and practiced unhealthy lifestyles, among others, were at high risk of diabetes.
She stated that the cost of diabetes care in the country was expensive and people must guard against the condition.
“A test strip costs at least five cedis and you need to test three to four times a day, others will need to test once a week. Glucometers cost between GHC200- GHC300. You will need to frequently do labs, regular reviews and buy medications which are very expensive so often, the average person is unable to afford.”
She further noted that diabetes affects the productivity of the individual stating, “Productivity is affected; the family is affected so cost is not just financial. Even the emotional cost of being on injections, insulin and others the rest of your life is draining and we must all prevent diabetes as much as possible”.
Deputy Minister of Health, Tina Naa Ayeley Mensah who launched the celebration said the Ministry through the National Health Policy is prioritizing awareness creation for prevention and control of diabetes.
“Diabetes goes beyond the health system and the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how far we can go with strong collaborative efforts and I call on other partners to come on board to help prevent and improve diabetes treatment outcomes,” she said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Director, Dr Francis Kasolo in a speech read on his behalf, urged government to prioritise investment in essential diabetes products like insulin, glucometers and test strips.
“This is critical to ensure equitable accessibility for everyone living with diabetes no matter where they are,” he said, pledging the WHO’s commitment to fully support interventions in the training of health workers in the prevention and management of NCDs.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri