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14.11.2005 Health

Diabetes on the increase - IDF reports

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Accra, Nov. 14, GNA - The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) has reported that the current 194 million adult diabetic population would double to 333 million by 2025 if it were not controlled. "The disease, which is taking a devastating trend, if not controlled, would claim more lives than expected", Prof. Agyeman-Badu Akosa, Director-General, Ghana Health Services (GHS), said on Monday. Prof. Akosa, who addressed a press conference to climax the World Diabetes Day celebrations, called for intensified education and support for the care and treatment of diabetes in the country.

He said a recent study conducted in Ghana estimated that about 6.8 per cent of the adult population aged 25 years and above, the most productive age group had the disease.

"Recent global reports have also shown that more than 300 million people are currently at risk of developing diabetes due to the rapid cultural and social changes, ageing populations, increasing urbanisation, dietary changes, reduced physical activities and other unhealthy lifestyles and behavioural patterns," he said.

The celebrations, under the theme: "Diabetes and Foot Care," had the slogan "Put Feet First; Prevent Amputations," was a wake-up call to the public and policy makers on the socio-economic implications of the disease.

Prof. Akosa noted that with Ghana's current prevalence rate of 6.3 per cent, the need to prioritise the research into the causes, treatment and maintenance of the disease to prevent complication was paramount. He linked the increased in diabetic cases to the increasing prevalence of obesity and said recent WHO and the International Obesity Taskforce's reports had attested to the high rise in body mass of most people, especially women.

He cautioned that diabetes, which was a serious chronic and a potential life-threatening disease, affected persons of all ages and was currently the leading cause of about 44 per cent of all foot amputations at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.

"The disease has also been identified as the leading cause of blindness and visual disability and the cost of treatment are very high," he said. Prof Akosa said diabetes could be prevented or controlled and called for an intensive public awareness of the risk and symptoms, which he described as important steps towards its prevention and care. He, therefore, urged all diabetics to take good care of their feet and to wear the correct type of shoes to prevent ulcers.

"Research has shown that about 25 per cent of people with diabetes have foot ulcers and those who have lost a leg are also 25 times more likely to loose the other," he said.

Prof Akosa said the GHS through the Ghana Diabetes Association had trained healthcare professionals to help to alleviate and prevent diabetes foot complications at the primary health care level and called for a minimum of 30 minutes exercise a day by all to help delay pre-diabetes.

Dr Kwamena Beechem, President, Ghana Diabetes Association (GDA), appealed to the Government to facilitate the waiver of taxation on the importation of insulin and other diabetes-care related products that were not produced in Ghana.

"Currently the cost of insulin is as high as 150,000 cedis, which is making life unbearable for most diabetic patients, while others who cannot afford die painfully,' he said.

He said that the Association in collaboration with the Pharma Ghana Limited, the local agent, last year introduce 4,000 glucose-monitoring devices and over 30,000 boxes of strips to all institutions caring for diabetics at no cost.

He called on Ghanaians to check their sugar levels, exercise frequently and always talk about diabetes in the home, markets, churches workplaces and other public places.

He also appealed to nongovernmental organisations to support in educating the public, offering screening services and providing financial support to the Association to help its members.

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