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28.06.2004 Health

Diabetes kills 32 million people worldwide

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Accra, June 28, GNA - The rate of diabetic death globally has been described as epidemic that is robbing shoulders with HIV/AIDS as 32 million people are reported dead each year from the disease. "Translating this, one death is recorded in every six minutes and this is very threatening", Dr Kwamena Beachem, President of the Ghana Diabetics Association, said at the launch of the 13th Medical Laboratory Technology Students Association Week celebration in Accra on Monday. The week which is under the theme: "Diabetics the Silent and Strident Killer" would have other activities such as screening and counselling, public health education, inter-school fun games, educational trip to Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and a thanksgiving service.
Dr Beachem noted that Africa had been the most hit by the disease, which was life threatening and that it was rising rapidly with people aged between 45 to 64 years appearing to be more affected. He said though it could not be cured, it could be managed and prevented if healthy lifestyle was adopted.
In Ghana, Dr Beachem noted that a nation-wide survey conducted in 1958 recorded 0.4 per cent prevalence rate and this moved to 0.2 per cent.
"It will surprise you to note that a recent population survey conducted in 1998 in three selected communities indicated a high prevalence rate of 6.4 per cent".
He expressed concern that the issue of diabetics had not attracted the attention of policy makers, politicians and the public as had been done to HIV/AIDS adding; "diabetes is silently killing people as HIV/AIDS and the faster we take serious action to control it the better it will be for us all".
Dr Beachem urged stakeholders, politicians, policy makers and the public to make joint efforts and give equal attention to the silent killer to save more lives.
Dr Kate Addo, Deputy Director of the National Diabetics Management and Research Centre, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, who launched the week-long celebration, said there were two types diabetes -1 and 2 and the type 2 was more prevalent in the country.
Patients with diabetes have an increased incidence of atherosclerotic, Cardiovascular, cerebrovascular diseases, hypertension, sexual dysfunction, foot ulcers leading to amputation, loss of vision and renal failure.
Dr Addo said diabetes the silent and strident killer could strike unknowingly and attack all organs and tissues of the body with devastating effects.
She urged all to be screened to know their status and if found to have the disease appropriate management be initiated and controlled, adding, "waiting for symptoms to develop before we take action is like sitting on a time bomb".
Mr Emmanuel Wanaba, President of the Medical Laboratory Technology Students Association, appealed to the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and all stakeholders to always involve the students in various health awareness programmes so that they could contribute their youthful energies towards eradicating public ignorance or preventable disease.