DICOMAI raises alarm on plight of Nigerians living with diabetes

DICOMAI raises alarm on plight of Nigerians living with diabetes

Diabetes Control Media Advocacy Initiative (DICOMAI), a media-based Non-Governmental Organization formed by a group of Nigerian journalists to assist in the control of diabetes, has raised the alarm on a looming epidemic of diabetes complications in the country if the Federal and State Governments do not act fast to  assist people living with the disease to effectively manage their conditions.

In a statement signed by the Chairman Board of Trustees, Dr. Afoke Isiavwe and Executive Director, Sam Eferaro to mark the 2023 World Diabetes Day, DICOMAI announced that feelers from its commissioned reports from the nation’s six geo-political zones revealed that many persons living with diabetes can no longer access much needed diabetes medications and monitoring devices to control their blood sugar as the current economic realities bite harder.  

Also visits to some hospitals and diabetes centres across the country revealed that most persons living with diabetes still have to pay out of pocket for their diabetes medications, as only a few have health insurance cover.

The statement reads in part:  “As Nigeria joins the rest of the world on November 14, to mark the 2023 World Diabetes Day, (WDD) the Diabetes Control Media Advocacy Initiative (DICOMAI), will like to draw the attention of governments and the general public to the plight of many Nigerians living with diabetes. We are worried that a large number of them cannot identify with the theme of this year’s WDD which advocates “Access to diabetes care” as it has become very difficult for these Nigerians to obtain essential diabetes medications and blood glucose monitoring devices for their treatment and management.

We are shocked to discover that people especially in the rural communities in virtually all the geographical zones have to travel far distances to towns and cities to obtain their medications with prices now beyond their reach. This is because diabetes medications and blood  glucose monitoring devices are becoming difficult to access because of spike in costs as majority are imported into the country.

Some people on daily insulin injection, especially children are now being forced to reduce their doses as the cost of insulin have increased and being sold between N6,000 and N15,000 per vial. Some need more than one vial a month to achieve glycemic control. Price increment of between 15% to 40% was observed in different states.   Some families are now faced with making difficult and painful choices to either buy insulin for their children, or buy food, pay for school fees or house rent.

As the nation marks the World Diabetes Day, it is our wish that the Federal Governmrnt, through the Federal Ministry of Health will at a minimum inform the nation about the current status of diabetes in the country through a national diabetes survey to reveal the real picture. This, we believe, is urgently required to be able to face the serious challenge of diabetes in the country.

Once again, we call on the Federal Government to adopt some pragmatic measures to immediately assist Nigerians living with diabetes and prevent unnecessary deaths and a wide range of complications associated with poorly managed diabetes. These will include introduction of policies such as import duty waivers on diabetes medications and blood glucose monitoring devices alongside incentives for local production, and free treatment for children and the elderly across the nation in Government-owned hospitals. From our observation, we believe that the current situation of diabetes scourge demands realistic policies such as the HIV/AIDS free treatment care for all patients.

We therefore urge both the Federal and all  State Governments, including Abuja, to seize the opportunity of the 2023 World Diabetes Day (WDD) to urgently step up efforts to provide access to people living with diabetes in these hard times. Not to act now could spell doom for the country in view of the nature of the disease.

Diabetes remains one of the largest global health emergencies of the 21st century, largely because of its severe and deadly consequences. This is a disease that affects virtually all organs of the body, resulting in loss of vision, dental problem, kidney  failure, cardiovascular disease,  lower limb amputation, sexual dysfunction,  among others,  when not properly controlled  –  sadly a situation faced by Nigerians living with the condition today. We cannot afford to ignore its potent danger.” 

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