THE NEED FOR NIGERIA TO DELIVER MORE ON DIABETES CARE AND FUNDING
We join the rest of the world in observing this year’s World Diabetes Day to raise and sustain global awareness about the escalating health threats posed by Diabetes. It is a campaign that seeks to keep Diabetes firmly in the front burner of political and public discourse. It is also a veritable global call-to-action which tackles the disease as a serious health challenge.
Although Diabetes is a largely preventable and manageable condition, its global incidence rate continues to increase, with an attendant heavy toll on individuals and entire countries. As of 2014, an estimated 422 million people were living with Diabetes, representing a doubling of global cases since 1980. In the last decade, this number has risen rapidly, especially in low income and middle-income countries.
From day one, the United Nations was clear about its target in setting aside a day for this grossly debilitating disease: encouraging “multilateral efforts to promote and improve human health, and provide access to treatment and healthcare education.” The world body also encourages member countries to build capacity and develop national policies for the prevention, treatment, and care of Diabetes in line with their health systems.
The National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity, is aware that Nigeria is one of the countries currently grappling with increasing cases of Diabetes. In the last 10 years, Diabetes has increased faster in low and middle income countries than in high income countries. A recent study reported that approximately 6 million adult Nigerians are living with Diabetes. Experts believe that this number is a massive understatement since, according to them, two-thirds of Diabetes cases in Nigeria are undiagnosed; a situation that has worsened morbidity and mortality from the disease, and has further complicated already inadequate health systems.
We are also aware of a chronic shortage of diabetes specialists and primary care physicians, and other health professionals across board in Nigeria, and how this stark reality flies in the face of the theme for this year’s commemoration – “The Nurse and Diabetes” – in honour of nurses and the outstanding role they play in supporting people living with Diabetes.
As the number of people living with diabetes mellitus continues to rise, the role of nurses becomes more important and pivotal in the prevention, management, and public health awareness of diabetes mellitus. Nurses improve the understanding of diabetes, play important roles in preventing complications of diabetes thereby easing the burden of the disease holistically translating to better quality of care. Investing in the education and training of nurses is pivotal in the management and fight against diabetes.
NAS hereby calls on government at all levels in Nigeria, in line with the UN mandate on Diabetes:
- To make the necessary commitments and investments in the resources that will narrow the serious deficits in Diabetes primary care practice and knowledge about the disease among the citizens and healthcare professionals.
- To provide a holistic approach that will include producing, retraining, and retaining more specialist doctors and nurses cannot be overemphasized if Nigeria is to start making progress in mitigating the very grave complications that can arise from the disease.
- To bolster Nigeria’s existing policies and protocols on Diabetes awareness and care in line with being a member of the International Diabetes Federation, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations.
- To institute a special recognition for the mostly understated contributions made by nurses to Diabetic care.
This year’s event is dedicated to the unsung sacrifices of our nurses and their dedication to patient care.