Diabetic patients in Nigeria have appealed to the federal and state governments to subsidise or make the treatment of diabetes free in public hospitals.
They made the appeal in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, yesterday, at the opening ceremony of the 2019 Triennial Delegates Congress and World Diabetes Day Celebration, organised by the Diabetes Association of Nigeria (DAN).
The patients bemoaned the high cost of managing diabetes in Nigeria and urged the government, international organisations, support groups and private individuals to come together and fight the disease.National President of DAN, Dr. Mohammed Alkali, said that diabetes had become a major global epidemic among non-communicable diseases, saying that between five and nine million Nigerians have the disease “but over half of them are not aware of it.”
‘’It is not an exaggeration to say that almost everyone in Nigeria has a relation or friend that is diabetic and might have lost one. This is only going to be worse unless we enlighten the public and do massive screening for them to prevent the epidemic from engulfing the world,” he said.
He, therefore, advised Nigerians to seek medical advice on how to live healthy and always screen themselves to know if they have the disease, saying that with proper healthcare, over 50 percent of diabetic cases would be prevented.
In the same vein, Prof. Olufemi Fasanmade, who spoke in a lecture titled, “Improving Diabetes Care In Nigeria: Useful Strategies,” lamented that diabetes treatment in Nigeria is a great financial burden, not only on the patients, but also on their family members.He disclosed that a diabetes patient in Nigeria spends 66 per cent of his expenditure on treatment “unlike in the United Kingdom (UK) where a patient only spends 10 percent.”
According to him, Nigerians spent N92 billion in treating diabetes in 2017 and called on the government to make the treatment of diabetes free.
Fasanmade bemoaned the low budget allocation for the health sector, insisting that the budget for health is too low to address the various health challenges confronting the nation.He, therefore, advised Nigerians to keep a healthy lifestyle and avoid smoking, alcohol and bad eating habits, which he said, could promote diabetes.
Fasanmade also urged the governments to revitalise the health insurance scheme to capture more Nigerians who could not afford expensive healthcare services, stressing that all Nigerians should have health insurance.Also, the Secretary of the association, Mr. Bernard Enyia, said majority of diabetic patients fall victim of “quacks, unlicensed tradomedical practitioners, drug vendors and dubious religious leaders who preach spiritual healings,” adding that mischievous medical practitioners who have huge appetite for money, as well as incessant strike actions by doctors and health workers, had further compounded the treatment of the disease in the country.
Enyia said that he spends an average of $125 per month to procure essential diabetes care.