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Poor nutrition and unhealthy environments are increasing the rise in type two diabetes among adolescents in the world, Ms Elizabeth Esi Denyah, President of the National Diabetes Association of Ghana has said.
Globally, diabetes in childhood has also become a public health issue with an estimated 79,000 children under 15 years developing type one diabetes every year. Many of the diabetic children face barriers to education and endure discrimination in the school environment.
In Ghana an estimated six per cent of the population is diabetic, Ms Denyah said.
Speaking at the launch of World Diabetes Day in Accra yesterday, Ms Denyah explained that there are more than four million diabetics in the country and the sufferers fall within the productive age of 44 to 64 years.
The theme for the Day was: “Healthy Eating and Diabetes,” and the world event would be held on Friday, 14 November in Geneva, Switzerland to draw the attention of the world to the issues of diabetes.
Ms Denyah said the increase in the diabetes population is due to increase in population growth and ageing, unhealthy eating habits, less physical activity, alcohol and tobacco usage.
She mentioned signs and symptoms of diabetes as frequent urination especially at night, excessive thirst, loss of weight, dizziness and trembling, blurred vision as well as tiredness and poor concentration.
She said the complications of diabetes are also very serious if not diagnosed early and treated properly and it could also result in high blood glucose levels that could damage the eye, kidneys and also lead to amputation, stroke and heart attack.
Ms Denyah said the Association has therefore partnered other institutions to embark on a number of measures including training of health workers on how to care and manage the disease.
She said the Association is also embarking on nationwide diabetes screening of all secondary schools in collaboration with the Church of Latter Day Saints and the first Lady Lordina Mahama for early detection and management of cases to save the future generation.
She called on Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service to have a national programme on diabetes running from next year and also appoint a programme manager to oversee the affairs as done in all countries in the sub-region.
Dr Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah Minister for Health in a speech read on his behalf said diabetes is a serious chronic debilitating and costly disease that imposes life-long demands on people living with the condition and on their families.
He said about 220 million people are currently suffering from diabetes and by 2030 the number would be double if effective interventions are not undertaken.
He said diabetes which previously was thought to be rare or undocumented in rural Africa had over the past few decades emerged as a major non-communicable disease in sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr Agyemang-Mensah said unfortunately, high proportions of diabetes cases still remain undiagnosed and many cases are diagnosed late, usually after complications had set in.
He said significant number of diabetic patients in Africa did not have access to proper treatment and appropriate medicine especially the insulin, leading to the onset of avoidable complications.
He said in spite of the challenges there was so much one could do to prevent the complications and live normal productive lives with the condition by eating healthy food and by exercising regularly.
“I wish to remind the citizenry that good health is a collective responsibility involving individual, families, communities and all stakeholders. I therefore urge all to religiously play their respective roles so as to remain healthy and contribute to national development.”
He urged stakeholders to collectively help promote innovative and culturally sensitive approaches to public education and building of strategic partnerships to harness and consolidate achievements by strengthening local, regional and community systems to improve outcomes.