By Vivian Ihechu/Lagos
A multinational pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk, on Saturday offered to supply free insulin to children living with Diabetes Mellitus (DM) in Nigeria and Ghana from 2021.
Jude Abonu, Business Unit Head, English West Africa, made the disclosure at a webinar organised by the company to mark the 2020 World Diabetes Day (WDD) with the theme “The Nurse and Diabetes’’ .
WDD was created in 1991 by IDF and the WHO in response to growing concerns about the increasing health threat posed by diabetes.
The day became an official United Nations Day in 2006 with the passage of United Nation Resolution 61/225.
It is marked every year on Nov. 14, the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who co-discovered insulin along with Charles Best in 1922.
The 2020 theme aims to raise awareness around the crucial role that nurses play in supporting people living with diabetes.
An online medical website, Healthline.com says, “Diabetes mellitus , sometimes called “sugar diabetes’, is a condition that occurs when the body can’t use glucose (a type of sugar) normally.
“Glucose is the main source of energy for the body’s cells. The levels of glucose in the blood are controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is made by the pancreas,” it says.
According to Abonu, the free supply of insulin to children project, tagged “Changing Diabetes in Children”, will start in 2021 in Ghana and Nigeria in fulfilment of the company’s goal to ensure full access to its insulin.
“Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a lifelong disease condition that requires holistic approach in its management.
“Insulin consumption in Nigeria is the least in the world and this implies that most Nigerians who are supposed to be getting it cannot getting it.
“All healthcare practitioners should work together to ensure that the outcome and prognosis get better for patients who are living with diabetes.
“In contributing our quota to diabetes care and management, Novo Nordisk is going to launch “Changing Diabetes in Children’’ in 2021.
“Through this programme, we are going to be giving free insulin for the next three years to children who are below 21-years, living with diabetes. It is going to be launched Quarter one of 2021.
“It has been approved. We are also working on how to give insulin at highly subsidised price to seniors. Those who are above 55 who are indigent, who do not have enough income or money to pay for their insulin,’’ he said.
Prof. Antonia Ogbera, a Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, said that many people, both children and adults, have died because they could not afford medications for DM.
Ogbera spoke on the topic: “The rising burden of diabetes: the facts, the figures and the drivers of the disease in Nigeria”.
According to Ogbera, 19 million adults are living with diabetes in Africa and by 2045, the figure may rise to 47 million.
She said: “Globally, 463 million people have diabetes and by 2045, it is estimated that 700 million people will have it.
“In 2015, about 5.0 million people died in Africa from diabetic mellitus.
“ South Africa and Nigeria are top countries in Africa with the highest cases of diabetes with 4.6 and 2.7 adults living with it respectively.
“About 63,958 persons are estimated to have died from diabetes-related disease in Nigeria and about 60 per cent of diabetes mellitus in Nigeria are undiagnosed.’’
Ogbera said that drivers of the epidemic in Nigeria include behavioural and lifestyle factors, urbanisation and health system related issues.
To reduce the spike, Ogbera said that diabetes screening and diagnosis at primary healthcare must be scaled up.
“Scale up health education using different channels such as radio, television, print and social media.
“Treat patients to target. Conduct national prevalence survey and ensure access to medication at primary care level,’’ Ogbera advised.
She said there was urgent need for governments to subsidise both screening and diabetes medications to reduce DM related deaths.
Also, Dr Ejiofor Ugwu, a Consultant Endocrinologist and Diabetologist at the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, ESUTH, advocated subsidy for diabetes medications as the drugs are too expensive.
Speaking on “`Diabetes Prevention and Control: Why Multidisciplinary Care and Multisectoral Response Are Needed in Nigeria”, Ugwu said that many hands were required for the treatment of diabetes.
“It requires multidisciplinary care because it can’t be handled by one person alone, but requires professionals from different range of disciplines to work together.
“The benefits of such collaborative effort will lead to good glucose-metabolic control.
“It will help patient get motivated and involved in self care,’’ he said
He acknowledged nurses as being integral members of the multidisciplinary care team and urged for improved welfare, funding and support for the profession.