By Sarjo Camara-Singateh
The Chairperson of the Gambia Diabetes Association, Mr. Salieu John has said that the number of people with diabetes in low and middle income countries will continue to grow, posing a threat to sustainable development. He added, “The number of people with diabetes in the African region is expected to double and the global health spending to treat diabetes and manage complications was estimated to be USD612 billion in 2014”. According to the chairman, almost 600 million of them may be living with type 2 diabetes by 2035. “Delayed diagnosis means that many people with type 2 diabetes suffer from at least one complication by the time they are diagnosed with diabetes,” he said.
Mr. John disclosed this to journalists at a press briefing organized by his association in collaboration with the health ministry as part of activities marking World Diabetes Day on November 14, 2015. This day which is observed yearly, was set aside by the United Nations.
He noted “a healthy lifestyle could prevent up to 70% of type 2 diabetes, healthy eating can help reduce risks; a healthy diet containing leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, lean meat, unsweetened yogurt and nuts can help reduce complications in people with diabetes; many of us will develop and live with type 1 diabetes”. While type1 diabetes cannot be prevented, a healthy lifestyle is an important part of effective management of the disease; encouraging healthy eating habits in young children key to halting the rise of the diabetes epidemic, he explained. “By ensuring the health of future generations, we take a step toward ensuring sustainable development,” remarked Mr. John.
According to Mr. John, access to affordable healthy food is essential to reducing the global burden of diabetes and ensuring global sustainable development. He stated that a healthy diet is on average $1.50 a day more expensive than unhealthy one, increasing food costs for one person by about $550 a year.
Mr. Lamin Kanyi, senior programme officer Health Education and Promotion Directorate stated that diabetes is ranked among the highest killers in the world and most expensive disease in terms of treatment. He said the health education and promotion directorate always want to partner with the media to create awareness and sensitize the public on the importance of this day for people to know.
Mr.Sanjally Trawally, Deputy Director Health Education and Promotion briefly gave a history about diabetes. He said diabetes is nearly 100 years since the discovery of insulin in 1921 by Frederick Banting, who along with Charles Best is credited with the date 14 November which was Frederick Banting’s birthday. He urged people to be taking more vegetables and fruits, especially for breakfast. Mr. Trawally stated that before, diabetes was not a serious problem but now, the number of people with diabetes condition is increasing daily.
Awa Trawally,programme officer, Noncommunicable Diseases Control (NCD) unit under the directorate of health communication and promotion presented the situation of diabetes in the Gambia. She described obesity or over weight, physical inactivity, use of tobacco, high consumption of alcohol, starchy and fatty foods amongst other things as the risk factors and causes of diabetes. She added, diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when there is high sugar levels in the blood as a result of too little or no insulin.
It can also occur when the body is not able to utilize insulin. Insulin is a natural substance that is needed to regulate sugar levels in the body, says Madam Trawally.
Mr. Omar Badjie, programme manager NCD, Ministry of Health and social welfare called on people to change their lifestyle saying, diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases are on the increase. He described physical activity as “very important”. He also advices people to desist from taking high quantity of oily and junk foods.
Messrs Sadibou Fatty and Ousman Dem both expressed similar sentiments. They both expressed belief that if lifestyles and eating habits are changed diabetes could be controlled.
The press briefing which was held at the NaNA on the 13 November, 2015 was chaired by Seyfo Singhateh from NCD unit.