World Diabetes Day 2021: WHO celebrates 100 years of Insulin

World Diabetes Day 2021: WHO celebrates 100 years of Insulin

The World Health Organization(WHO) says one hundred years after the discovery of insulin in 1921, a scientific achievement which changed the lives of people living with diabetes, premature death among people with diabetes is still high in many African countries, because of late diagnosis and a lack of access to insulin.

READ ALSO: Millions of diabetic patients can’t afford insulin – WHO
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, stated this in her message for World Diabetes Day.

She said that the international community commemorates World Diabetes Day to raise awareness of the growing burden of diabetes disease, and strategies to prevent and treat it.

“The theme this year, and until 2023, is “Access to diabetes care”, because too many people still do not have access to diagnostics, medicines and monitoring devices that can help with diabetes management.

In the African Region, more than 19 million people are living with diabetes and this number is expected to grow to 47 million by 2025.

Sadly, about two-thirds of people living with diabetes in African countries are unaware of their condition.

The known risk factors for diabetes include family history, age, being overweight, having a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, or use of alcohol or tobacco”.

Moetti said.

She said that left unchecked, without management and lifestyle changes, diabetes can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, lower limb amputation, visual impairment, blindness and nerve damage, including erectile dysfunction.

“Even when patients are diagnosed, insulin stockouts in public health facilities and the costs of insulin, result in individuals not getting the treatment they need.

For example, in Ghana, it would take the average worker more than five days of earnings to save up for a monthly supply of insulin.

In most African countries, the cost of insulin and monitoring products for diabetes and other noncommunicable diseases, are paid for out of pocket by individuals and their families”.

She said.

The Regional Director also said that people with diabetes are also at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.

“In addition, surveys by WHO on access to essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic, show that access to diabetes care has been severely disrupted in the African Region.

To improve equitable access to quality diabetes care, WHO launched the Global Diabetes Compact in April 2021.

This builds on work in recent years to rollout the WHO Package of Essential Noncommunicable Disease (WHO PEN) interventions for primary health care in low-resource settings.

So far 21 African countries have started using this package.

Benin, Eritrea, Eswatini, Lesotho and Togo have achieved national expansion covering all primary health care facilities.

Ultimately, services to prevent and manage diabetes care are essential components in realizing Universal Health Coverage, so that all people can access the care they need”.

Dr Moetti noted.

She also ask governments to invest in making essential products like insulin, blood glucometers and test strips available to all communities.

“This should be backed by training of health workers in noncommunicable disease prevention and management at the district and community level towards improving service availability.

I also urge all people living with diabetes to protect yourself from severe COVID-19 illness and death, by getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as you can“.

She added.

People with are advised to always self-monitor their Blood glucose, have diabetes education as well as eat healthy food and they also need to exercise.

World Diabetes Day 2021: WHO celebrates 100 years of Insulin

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