Pragmatic solutions are urgently needed to reduce the incidence of diabetes in Ghana

World Diabetes Day, 2019

As Ghana join the world to mark World Diabetes Day, 2019 on 14th November, 2019 on the theme: “the Family and Diabetes”, the Ghana Non Communicable Disease Alliance (Ghana NCD Alliance) expresses worry over the rise in the number of diabetes cases in Ghana. Despite the various awareness campaigns by organizations and other relevant institutions, not much progress is being felt. 

The 2019 Diabetes Day, aims to raise awareness of the impact that diabetes has on the family and support network of those affected, as well as promoting the role of the family in the management, care, prevention and education of diabetes.

We are glad that some organizations are supporting the Ministry of Health to reduce the incidence by providing timely care to those living with Diabetes and hypertension. 

It is important however to note that when proper measures are not put in place to ameliorate the canker, all efforts will be in vain. We believe in prevention as best investment any leader can bestow to its people. Many diabetes risk factors including overweight and obesity, tobacco and alcohol intake, unhealthy diet, being physically inactive are all preventable. Diabetes resulting from family history and genetics are also largely preventable when we know our diabetes status.

Diabetes is a physical illness and must be managed typically through proper medication, healthy diet and regular exercise.

Many Ghanaians are still struggling with the financial burden of costs of medicines, diagnostic tests and recommended diets. We are calling for financial protection of paying for health services from out of pockets expenses. The high cost of treatment and regular test for diabetes puts lots of financial burden on people living with diabetes, thus pushing them into poverty. The unexpected illness requires them to use up their life savings or borrow thereby destroying the future of their children. 

To effectively achieve the United Nations Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is incumbent for government to put people first and invest in health which is a human right defined by WHO as “The right to health for all people means that everyone should have access to the health services they need, when and where they need them, without suffering financial hardship” and that “No one should get sick and die just because they are poor, or because they cannot access the health services they need”

We are witnessing direct opposite because the people especially the poor, vulnerable and the underserved communities are dying because they are unable to afford quality and affordable medicines at the point of need contrary to principles of the UHC.

The Ghana NCD Alliance proposes the following as a means to reducing the incidence:

  • Families to learn more about the warning signs of diabetes and find out their risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Empower communities and people with diabetes on the management of diabetes 
  • Promote the consumption of locally produced indigenous Ghanaian food
  • Policies to check industry such as tobacco, alcohol, sugar products and junk food joints in the prevention and promotion efforts on diabetes
  • Enactment of legislations mandating manufacturers to display food content labels 
  • Public awareness campaign at all levels especially at the local and remote communities
  • Increase budget allocation to NCDs programmes
  • Improve the National Health Insurance Scheme to cover all diabetes diagnoses, treatment and care.
  • Quality training for health care workers specially community health workers to expand reach 
  • Prohibition of sale of unapproved local/herbal medicines
  • All health centers must dedicate a consulting room for people to walk in to just check their diabetes, hypertension and other vitals; thus easing stress and encouraging more people to know their health status.

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, amputation, heart disease, kidney failure and early death. Simple action can reduce the risk. Every 8 seconds someone dies from diabetes and 1 in 2 people with diabetes do not know they have it.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for around 90% of all people living with diabetes. Its most commonly affects adults but is increasingly seen in children and adolescents. Diabetes among children is also rising. Many of our children with diabetes face discrimination in the school because of lack of knowledge of diabetes among teachers. This leads to diabetes complications in many cases. We urge the School Health Education programme under the Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service to prioritize skills development for teachers to enable them manage the conditions

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that as many as 212 million people, or half of all adults currently living with diabetes, are undiagnosed. Most of these have type 2 diabetes and further estimated that 15.5 million adults aged 20-79 years were living with diabetes in the IDF Africa Region in 2017, representing a regional prevalence of 3.3%.  More than half (55.3%) of adults living with diabetes in the Africa Region live in urban areas.

For further information contact:

Labram Musah: 

National Coordinator: Ghana NCD Alliance 

Programmes Director, Vision for Alternative Development 

0243 211854

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