The Ministry of Health (MoH) in collaboration with partners Thursday, November 14, 2019 celebrated World Diabetes Day at the Dupo Road Clinic in Paynesville City, under the Theme: “The Family and Diabetes”.
World Diabetes Day is the primary global awareness campaign focusing on diabetes mellitus and is held on 14th of November each year.
Giving an overview of the program, Dr. Fred W. Amegashie, Director of NCDs at the MOH, said the World Diabetes Day was launched in 1991 by the IDF and the World Health Organization (WHO) in response to the rapid rise of diabetes around the world.
“By 2016, World Diabetes Day was being commemorated by over 230 IDF member associations in more than 160 countries and territories, as well as by other organizations, companies, healthcare professionals, politicians, celebrities, and people living with diabetes and their families. Activities include diabetes screening programmes, radio and television campaigns, sports events etc,” he noted.
He said, after conducting a survey in 2013, nineteen percent (19%) of the Country’s population lives with the disease, saying, “Since 2013, our survey shows that about 19% has problem with breakdown of Sugar”.
Continuing: “Globally, an estimated 422 million adults were living with diabetes in 2014, compared to 108 million in 1980. The global prevalence of diabetes has nearly doubled since 1980, rising from 4.7% to 8.5% in the adult population. This reflects an increase in associated risk factors such as being overweight or obese. Over the past decade, diabetes prevalence has risen faster in low and middle-income countries than in high-income countries.”
Dr. Amegashie informed that, as a way of creating more awareness across the country, the day has been observed in other parts of the Country, naming Ganta Cities, Happer, among others.
Meanwhile, in observance of the day, a message from the World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, says WHO is working with Countries across Africa to improve prevention and management of diabetes with focus on building capacity to monitor the burden through surveys using its STEPwise approach to non-communicable disease surveillance and ensuring health services for diabetes are available as of primary health care, using the WHO package of Essential Non-communicable Diseases (PEN) services.
Reading a prepare text on behalf of the Regional Director for Africa, WHO County Coordinator of the Montserrado County Health Team (MCHT), Sam J. Gebeh, II named Seychelles and South Africa as Countries that have enacted laws to tax sugar-sweetened beverages, which according to him will contribute to reduce consumption—in turn, preventing obesity and diabetes.
“We are also supporting countries to pursue innovations, such as in Benin, where artificial intelligence is being used for early diagnosis of diabetes and in Senegal where the health sector is using mobile technology to educate patients on the treatment to improve medication compliance”, he noted.
The WHO proxy indicated that, while the progress is encouraging, the burden of diabetes is increasing, and there is a need to do more to curb the situation.
In the same vein, he has recommended that, in order to maintain healthy diets, people living with the disease should consume less than six teaspoons of sugar each day (including sugar added to food and drinks by companies, cooks or consumers and sugar in honey and fruit juice)
As a way of reducing the number of persons living with diabetes, the WHO proxy has urged government to enact and implement laws and policies that would enable people to lead healthy lifestyles and to ensured essential medicines and technologies are available in the public sector.
For her part, Assistant Minister for Preventive Services at the MOH, Mrs. Joyce W. D. Sherman has underscored the importance for Liberians to take advantage of diabetes testing at various medical facilities in order to know their sugar status, void of fear.
She observed that patients over the period have failed to take advantage of the process, leading some of them dying.
“Our people are not taking advantage of the process because of fear. Some of them even go beyond denying that they are not diabetes patients after they have been diagnosed”, she averred while addressing questions, continuing, “We need to encourage our friends and family members to do their sugar test, so they can know what’s really affecting them”.
She however lauded partners for their tireless collaboration with government’s pro-poor agenda for prosperity and development and urged them for their commitments towards said partnership.
The celebration ceremony brought together key partners in the health sector including representatives of the WHO, Lion Clubs-Liberia, among others with a colorful parade from the ELWA Junction to the Dupo Road Clinic.
Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and lower limb amputation. Healthy diet, physical activity and avoiding tobacco use can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. In addition diabetes can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with medication, regular screening and treatment for complications.
In 2007 General Assembly adopted resolution 61/225 designating 14 November as World Diabetes Day. The document recognized “the urgent need to pursue multilateral efforts to promote and improve human health, and provide access to treatment and health-care education.”
The resolution also encouraged Member States to develop national policies for the prevention, treatment and care of diabetes in line with the sustainable development of their heal.