With current prevalence reaching epidemic proportions, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has predicted that developing countries would bear the brunt of diabetes in the 21st Century.

It said available statistics indicated that currently more than 70 per cent of people with diabetes lived in low and middle income countries, with prevalence increasing dramatically in Africa with an estimated 10.4 million people with the condition in 2007.

In Ghana about four million people may be affected with diabetes mellitus, which is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, a condition which could be attributed to a situation where either the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced, but it could be controlled and managed with little injections of insulin.

Diabetes is said to be one of the rising killer diseases globally, claiming one life every eight seconds and a limb lost at every 30 seconds, according to reports from WHO and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).

In a speech read for him, Mr Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, Minister of Health at the opening session of a three-day Training Workshop for Diabetes Nurse Educators in Accra on Wednesday, said the Atlas of IDF showed that the number of people with diabetes in Africa would increase by 80 per cent to 18.7 million by 2025.

The Sector Minister noted that currently, Ghana Health Service had a doctor to population ratio of one to11,929, stressing the fact that lack of financial means was not the only challenge, but a scarcity of trained health care personnel, capable to tackle the prevention, diagnosis and management of diabetes at all levels of the health care systems.

The workshop was organised by Ithemba Foundation Ghana (IFG), an NGO in collaboration with Ministry of Health for 37 Diabetes Nurse Educators drawn from selected health facilities to help improve the quality of diabetes care in the country.

It was aimed at equipping participants with expanded knowledge on the disease to enable them relate quality information and serve as lifelines to people living with the condition at the various diabetes clinics nationwide and ambassadors in their communities.

Mr Bagbin stressed on the need to design and adopt national diabetes plans that relied on a multi-level system of care, adding the training of physicians, nurses and health care staff was a plus in combating the incidence of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases in Ghana.

He commended the organisers for the initiative and called for the active involvement and support of all stakeholders, adding that with the above highlights, there could be quite a number of sufferers walking the streets without access to basic information and primary care.

Mr Samuel Denyoh, Executive Director, IFG, said there were unknown number of people who died from lack of proper management, coupled with ignorance of the disease in Ghana.

“It was clear that if not addressed as a matter of urgency, diabetes, will soon threaten the economic viability of the nation. And sadly, many people who survive HIV and AIDS may die of diabetes,” he said.

Mr Denyoh said the treatment of diabetes was immense and increasing in Ghana, adding “Currently over two million people are known to be living with the condition and the nation will not, and is not escaping the impact of diabetes.”

He stressed that undetected, untreated or poorly controlled diabetes could result in devastating long-term complications such as blindness, amputation, kidney diseases, stroke, heart attack, erectile dysfunction and life threatening short-term complications as ketoacidosis and severe hypoglycemia.

The need to avoid the potentially disastrous impact of diabetes in Ghana was paramount, acknowledging that government alone cannot shoulder the responsibility, therefore the initiative by IFG to ensure that people living with diabetes received adequate knowledge about the condition.

“This would however prevent, if not reduce the occurrence of both short-term and long-term complications,” he said.

Mr Stephen Coffie, Vice-President of the National Diabetes Association, appealed to  nurses and other health care providers to embrace people living with diabetes with love, passion, care and support, stressing that any form of hostility towards them could trigger complications, creating trauma or leading to untimely deaths.

He said diabetes mellitus was a complex chronic disease and as Diabetes Nurse Educators, would be expected to communicate large amounts of complex information to patients with diabetes and help them learn the skill needed to manage their disease on daily basis.

Mr Coffie gave the assurance that the Association would look for further sponsorship from government and other sources for training in foot care and wound management in diabetes patients.

Source: GNA

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