17.03.2005 Regional News

Diabetes on the increase in children, youth - Doctor

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Accra, March 17, GNA - Dr Kwabena Beecham, President of the Ghana Diabetes Association, on Thursday expressed worry over the increasing rate of diabetes among children and the youth.

He noted that the disease was increasingly affecting the working group and urgent steps should be taken to prevent or manage the situation to safeguard the human resource of the country.

Dr Beecham, who was addressing participants at a day's training of trainer's workshop for health care providers, attributed the high risk of contracting diabetes, apart from hereditary causes, to poor diet of Ghanaians.

He noted that as much as about 50 per cent of diabetes cases recorded was diagnosed in children and the current prevalence rate, which stood at 6.3 per cent, it should be treated with urgency to halt the trend.

He urged the public to avoid fatty and junk foods, which include "Check Check" (fried rice and chicken), in order to control their sugar levels and prevent diabetes.

The workshop would provide participants with further knowledge and skills to handle the disease and also update their knowledge on the current situation.

Dr Beecham noted that the diabetes situation during the late 70s was 40 out of 1,000 persons, but this had increased fifteen fold. He cautioned that if the disease were not controlled, it would surpass HIV/AIDS to put more pressure on the development efforts of government.

He said the Association, in collaboration with the Australian Diabetes Association, was providing insulin, a diabetes drug, free of charge for children who were living with the disease after registering them for monitoring and urged parents to register their children to benefit from the support.

He explained that anything lower than four per cent of glucose in the body could trigger symptoms in patients leading to complications. Dr Beecham said the human brain was dependent on glucose as its only source of energy. Therefore any shortage could create abnormalities in the body to create complications.

He mentioned some of the symptoms in patients as sweating, blurred vision, palpitations, headaches, dizziness and aggressiveness and urged health providers to be wary of these conditions when treating patients. Dr Beecham said diabetes could be managed when detected early, but became very expensive when complications developed. He therefore urged patients to be committed to taking their medications and visit their health providers for frequent screening.

He urged the public to cultivate the habit of seeking medical advice at least once a year, as about 60 per cent of patients diagnosed with the disease had lived with it for at least six years since they might not have experienced any symptoms.

Dr Beecham urged health care providers to always check glucose levels in patients before administering any medication.

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