By: Obed Ofori Nyarko, Elliot Koranteng Tannor, Saabea Owusu Konadu and Gilda Opoku
Diabetes mellitus is a major cause of disability and death in both rural and urban areas in Ghana(1). It is a chronic condition characterized by an absolute or relative deficiency of insulin leading to elevated blood sugar levels(2). As a non-communicable disease with major global health impact, diabetes is a major cardiovascular risk factor for stroke, coronary artery disease(3) and chronic kidney disease. Type 2 diabetes accounts for over 90% of the prevalence of all diabetes(4) whiles type 1 diabetes and Gestational diabetes account for the rest(5).
According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), there are 425 million people living with diabetes worldwide as of 2017(6)with the vast majority living in low and middle-income countries(2) like Ghana.. About two thirds of Africans living with diabetes are unaware of their condition(6) making most report with devastating complications of diabetes accounting for its increased morbidity and mortality.
The prevalence of diabetes mellitus has been shown to be 6.46% among Ghanaian adults in a community based study as well as a systematic review and met analysis(1). A positive family history, age above 40 and physical inactivity are the most relevant risk factors associated with diabetes mellitus in Ghana(1). Other risk factors include obesity, alcohol intake, the use of medications such as steroids, bleaching creams and sedentary lifestyles(9).
Diabetes is also associated with significant morbidities such as blindness, amputations, poor wound healing as well as kidney and heart diseases if poorly managed(10). It is imperative to prevent such complications by early diagnosis and treatment(11)especially among patients with type 2 diabetes.
To stem this tide, the International Federation of Diabetes marks the World diabetes day every year in November to create awareness about the disease. This year, International Diabetes Federation is organizing 965 events in 117 countries(6) under the theme “Family and Diabetes”(11) which falls on the 14th of November 2019. This is to raise awareness on the impact diabetes has on the family and emphasize the role the family can play in prevention, management and follow up of patients with diabetes(6). Families are encouraged to gain more knowledge on the early warning signs of diabetes such as increased frequency of urination, increased thirst, increased hunger, unexplained weight loss and blurred vision(9).Families are also encouraged to undertake regular screening exercises especially if there is a strong family history of diabetes so as to identify early disease to prevent complications and mortality. Families can also provide significant social support for patients living with diabetes to improve their survival and quality of life.
In Ghana, the day will be marked with numerous health screening exercises to measure the blood glucose levels of Ghanaians at various sites and by various organizations to mark the day. The major aim is to increase awareness and educate the public to identify the signs of diabetes. The major challenges healthcare professionals face in the management of diabetes and its complications include poor public education, lack of awareness of the condition, lack of well-established guidelines on its management and a general lack of resources in our health facilities (8).
As we celebrate world diabetes day, families are entreated to find out their risk for diabetes, learn more about the danger signs of diabetes and support their relatives with diabetes.
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Tannor EK, Sarfo FS, Mobula LM, Sarfo‐Kantanka O, Adu‐Gyamfi R, Plange‐Rhule J: Prevalence and predictors of chronic kidney disease among Ghanaian patients with hypertension and diabetes mellitus: A multicenter cross‐sectional study. The Journal of Clinical Hypertension 2019.
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