Wed, 25 Oct 2023 Feature Article

Amidst High Cost Of Drugs, Experts Adopt A Healthy Lifestyle For Hypertension And Diabetic Patients

Amidst High Cost Of Drugs, Experts Adopt A Healthy Lifestyle For Hypertension And Diabetic Patients

Experts are working hard to address the increasing expenses associated with the treatment of non-communicable illnesses like diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. ODIMEGWU ONWUMERE states that they are accomplishing this goal by providing dietary supplements that can be included in meals to help regulate blood glucose levels

A diabetic patient, who wished to remain anonymous, informed our reporter in Port Harcourt that diabetes management in Nigeria is growing in significance, as personal experience has shown that not all individuals with diabetes are fortunate.

"Based on my personal experience, it is evident that diabetes management in Nigeria is becoming an increasingly significant issue. Not everyone who has diabetes can be as fortunate,” the anonymous diabetic patient said.

Recognizing diabetes mellitus as a significant health concern in the 21st century due to its severe and potentially fatal consequences, the International Diabetes Federation appealed to the government to abolish import tariffs on essential medications. This measure would improve affordability and availability for Nigerians, they say.

Checks have shown that the average cost of diabetes treatment per person in the country has increased from N60,000 in 2011 to N300,000 in 2021. The IDF projects that this cost will surpass N500,000 in 2030 and exceed N1.0 million by 2045.

These statistics contradict the theme of World Hypertension Day, which was observed from May 1 to July 31, 2023, with a particular emphasis on May 17, 2023. The main objective of this day was to emphasize the importance of improving the prevention, detection, and treatment of hypertension and, as a result, diabetes.

The situation with high import tariffs is especially problematic for conditions like cancer and diabetes because they necessitate a substantial quantity of imported drugs and monitoring devices for effective treatment. In Nigeria alone, there are currently over 5 million individuals with diabetes, which poses a significant public health concern. The International Diabetes Federation reports that the number of women living with diabetes is currently over 199 million and is projected to increase to 313 million by 2040, as mentioned in Nestle's 2017 report.

Hence, there is an urgent need to reduce the cost of medications for specific conditions. Regrettably, more than 70 percent of the drugs used in the country are imported. Given the present socioeconomic circumstances and the brain drain in the healthcare industry, Nigeria cannot afford to face this specific health crisis. It has been mentioned that many people with diabetes are currently at risk due to the increasing challenge in managing the condition. Additionally, there is a rising number of Nigerians experiencing complications from diabetes, leading to non-traumatic amputations, longer hospital stays, and sometimes preventable deaths.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged member state governments to prioritize investments in essential diabetes management products, such as insulin, glucometers, and test strips. They believe that these products should be accessible to all individuals with diabetes, regardless of their location in Africa. The WHO is concerned about the worldwide impact of diabetes, which is a leading cause of death and disability affecting people of all countries, age groups, and genders.

They are particularly worried about the projected rise in global diabetes cases from 529 million to 1.3 billion by 2050. In light of this concerning information, experts are aiming to address the increasing expenses associated with treating non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.

DICOMAI, an advocacy initiative in Lagos that focuses on controlling diabetes, urged the Federal and state governments to provide free diabetes management services to children and the elderly. Dr. Afoke Isiavwe, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Sam Eferaro, the Executive Director, signed a statement expressing their frustration with the high prices of diabetes drugs.

They highlighted how the removal of fuel subsidies and other policies have contributed to the rising costs of these drugs. The organization is urgently calling on the federal government to intervene and help alleviate the financial burden associated with medications and other healthcare treatments.

They emphasized the potential consequences of inadequate diabetes treatment, such as diabetic foot ulcers, kidney failure, and blindness. DICOMAI believes that if import taxes on diabetes medications are exempted, it could potentially lead to a 40 percent reduction in their prices.

Potentialities Of A Healthy Lifestyle
Research suggests that embracing a healthy lifestyle has the potential to prevent up to 70% of Type 2 Diabetes. In order to expedite progress in tackling diabetes and other NCDs, the WHO has established the Global Diabetes Compact.

The aim of this compact is to minimize the negative consequences of the disease and ensure that all individuals with diabetes have access to fair, inclusive, affordable, and high-quality treatment.

During the 75th World Health Assembly, WHO Member States endorsed the implementation of global targets for diabetes to be achieved by 2030. These targets are part of recommendations aimed at enhancing diabetes responses in national NCD programs.

They involve ensuring that 80% of individuals with diabetes are diagnosed and effectively manage their blood sugar and blood pressure levels, that 60% of individuals over the age of 40 receive starting treatment, and that all individuals with Type 1 diabetes have affordable access to insulin and blood glucose self-monitoring.

While waiting for authorities to subsidize drug prices for diabetic patients, Nestle Nigeria remains committed to extensively improving the nutritional value of their products. According to information they provided, they strive to reduce the levels of salt, sugar, trans fat, saturated fat, and artificial colorings in their products through science-backed solutions.

Their objective is to enhance the quality of life through food and diet, benefiting consumers with specific nutritional requirements, such as diabetic patients, as well as those with lower incomes. Nestle Nutren Diabetic Milk serves as an example of their efforts in this area.

Moreover, Nestlé Health Science has launched a program in Malaysia to address pre-diabetes. This program incorporates a food supplement that can be added to meals to assist in regulating blood glucose levels.

It also encompasses a digital platform that assesses diabetes risks and provides personalized meal plans for individuals with pre-diabetes.

However, the global prevalence of diabetes is on the rise due to factors like obesity. It is crucial to comprehend the variations in risk factors and the impact of diabetes on diverse populations in order to develop effective strategies for prevention and management.