As the world marks this year’s Diabetes Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said cost and stockouts of insulin in public health facilities result in individuals not getting the treatment they need in Africa.
WHO regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, stated this on Sunday in a statement to mark the World Diabetes Day, themed: “Access to diabetes care”.
She said in the African Region, more than 19 million people are living with diabetes and this number is expected to grow to 47 million by 2025.
Sadly, about two-thirds of people living with diabetes in African countries are unaware of their condition, said Moeti.
She added that “Even when patients are diagnosed, insulin stockouts in public health facilities and the costs of insulin, result in individuals not getting the treatment they need.”
She said “For example, in Ghana, it would take the average worker more than five days of earnings to save up for a monthly supply of insulin. In most African countries, the cost of insulin and monitoring products for diabetes and other noncommunicable diseases are paid out of pocket by individuals and their families.”
Moeti identified the known risk factors for diabetes as family history, age, being overweight, having a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, or use of alcohol or tobacco.
She said if left unchecked, without management and lifestyle changes, diabetes can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, lower limb amputation, visual impairment, blindness and nerve damage, including erectile dysfunction. People with diabetes are also at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.
The DG therefore called for Investment in insulin, blood glucometers, test strips availability to all communities, adding that it should be backed by training of health workers in noncommunicable disease prevention and management at the district and community level towards improving service availability.
She also urged all people living with diabetes to protect themselves from severe COVID-19 illness and death, by getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as you can.
On 14th November, the international community commemorates World Diabetes Day to raise awareness of the growing burden of this disease, and strategies to prevent and treat it.
The theme this year, and until 2023, is “Access to diabetes care” because too many people still do not have access to diagnostics, medicines and monitoring devices that can help with diabetes management.