Diabetes Control Media Advocacy Initiative has called on the Federal Government to subsidise the cost of drugs and make treatment accessible for people living with diabetes.
The non-governmental organisation, DICOMAI made the call on the 2023 World Diabetes Day on Tuesday while bemoaning the increasing costs of insulin, glucometer and test stripes in pharmacies.
The group also raised the alarm over what it described as the looming epidemic of diabetes complications in the country, lamenting that many persons with diabetes were no longer able to effectively manage their condition, as a result of the high rate of inflation in the country.
World Diabetes Day is observed on November 14 every year.
The global observance is to raise awareness about the impact of diabetes on the health of people and to highlight the opportunities to strengthen the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diabetes. The theme for World Diabetes Day 2021-23 is access to diabetes care.
In a statement, the Executive Director, of DICOMAI, Sam Eferaro and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Afoke Isiavwe, decried the current economic realities warning that many people living with diabetes are increasingly unable to access essential diabetes medications and monitoring devices to control their blood sugar.
They said investigations into hospitals and diabetes centres throughout the nation showed that the majority of people with diabetes still pay for their drugs out of pocket because most of them lack health insurance.
The statement said, “We are worried that a large number of them cannot identify with this year’s theme: “Access to diabetes care” as it has become very difficult for these Nigerians to obtain essential diabetes medications and blood glucose monitoring devices for 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 a spike in costs as the majority are imported into the country.”
Expressing worry that since vials of insulin are currently selling for between N6,000 and N15,000, some individuals who have daily injections-children in particular-are being compelled to cut back on their dosages.
In some cases, they noted, glycemic management requires more than one vial each month, even as price increases from 15 – 40 percent were noted in several states.
According to them, some families are faced with making difficult and painful choices to either buy insulin for their children or buy food, pay for school fees or house rent,
They noted, “From our observation, we believe that the current situation of the diabetes scourge demands realistic policies such as HIV and 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 to urgently step up efforts to provide access to people living with diabetes in these hard times. Not acting now could spell doom for the country given the nature of the disease.
“The Federal Government should also adopt 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 the 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.”
They urged the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Health, to urgently declare the current status of diabetes in the country through a national diabetes survey.
Recently, leading medical practitioners raised the alarm over what they described as a catastrophic rise in the number of people living with diabetes mellitus in Nigeria, lamenting that the number has risen to 22m.
The experts revealed that half of the 22m (11m) Nigerians living with diabetes are unaware that they have the killer disease, warning that the number may double by 2045 if urgent measures are not taken to address the trend
Diabetes is a silent killer and one of the leading causes of death globally. It is a chronic condition brought about by either insufficient insulin (hormone regulating blood sugar levels) production by the pancreas, or inefficient insulin utilisation by the body. Uncontrolled diabetes results in high blood sugar, which over time seriously harms many different body systems.
Diabetes is not only closely associated with high blood pressure, obesity and hereditary, its complications also include damage to the brain, heart, kidney and limbs. It exposes its victim to blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke, and lower limb amputation.