The number of people suffering from diabetes in Nigeria has risen to about five million, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said this week, as the world celebrated World Diabetes Day on Monday.
According to the WHO, the number of people with diabetes in Africa has jumped from four million in 1980 to 25 million in 2014, while the disease was responsible for more than 320,000 deaths in 2015.
Nigerian state hospitals are believed to be grappling with increasing cases of diabetes, as many of those who have diabetes are poor Nigerians whose income is hardly sufficient to meet the expense needed to manage the disease.
The increasing number of people suffering from diabetes is potentially dangerous for Nigeria and many other African countries, where hospitals have to deal with other communicable illnesses such as Tuberculosis, HIV and Malaria.
Dr Adedoyin Ogunyemi, a Lagos-based public health physician, has blamed changing lifestyles, especially poor nutrition, as among the key factors responsible for the high rate of diabetes in this troubled West African oil-rich nation.
“The fact is that we are becoming more and more westernised,” Ogunyemi told Deutsche Welle (DW). “Previously, when we talked about diet, we probably cooked from scratch. But because of the fast life we are living nowadays, most people tend to go for fast foods and things that are very high in refined sugar.
“Rather than taking the fruits, the vegetables, the fibers, we are going for refined sugar, for fast foods and things that become sugar very quickly in the body. These refined sugar products make people more predisposed to diabetes,” he added.
He also said that Africa’s economic boom meant more cars and motor bikes on the streets, and this said has led to sedentary lifestyles as people walk less than they used to.
The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) says Africa has the highest percentage of undiagnosed people at almost 68% These people face a higher risk of developing serious and costly complications if diabetes remains undetected.
Sub-Saharan Africa, which has the lowest expenditure to treat diabetes, spends about U$3.4 billion (3.1 billion euros) annually. Globally, U$673 billion (620 billion euros) was spent to manage the disease, IDF said.
The disease, which the WHO said will become the seventh leading cause of death by 2030, is a condition which affects the body after the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin produced.
(DW/Chrispin Mwakideu/Sam Olukoya/Sifa News
Photo: Chronic diabetics have to inject insulin into their bloodstream to help control the level of blood sugar. credit: AP