Diabetes patients living in Honiara marked World Diabetes Day with a theme ‘The family and Diabetes’ on Wednesday, November 14 at the National Referral Hospital (NRH), along with nurses and doctors.
Diabetes is a growing concern throughout the world, including Solomon Islands, with more than 420 million adults living with the condition. The number is on the rise.
In 2012 alone, diabetes killed 1.5 million people. Its complications can lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputation of the feet and legs.
“Diabetes is no longer a disease of predominantly rich nations, the prevalence of diabetes is steadily increasing everywhere, most markedly in the world’s low and middle-income countries,” said Kirsten Frandsen, World Health Organization (WHO) representative, at the occasion.
“Throughout the world, six out of the ten countries that have the highest levels of diabetes are located right here in the Pacific, namely: Tokelau, Nauru, Cook Islands, Marshall Islands, Palau and New Caledonia,” Ms Frandsen said.
She said diabetes impacted government and communities, as well. Diabetes and its complications not only harshly affect the finances of individuals and their families, but they affect the economies of nations.
“Treating people with diabetes is expensive and often drains countries of their precious healthcare budgets,” she said.
NRH Consultant Physician Dr Jones Ghabu said that diabetes was one of the major diseases that contributed to a health crises that families were facing in the country.
He said diabetes complications kill a person every second per day. The rate of new cases was increasing with almost a case diagnosed a day often with associated complications, such as stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, kidney failure or infections.
“Foot infection is a very common presentation resulting in 3-5 amputees every week. These people are young people in their 30s, 40s and 50s.
“The scary reality is that 50% of people with diabetes don’t know they have it, because so far, new cases were diagnosed on presentation with complications,” said Dr Ghabu.
He said the challenges of dealing with diabetes ranged from lack of basic equipment for monitoring, diabetic drugs being frequently out of stock, limited skilled human resources and inadequate space in the hospital facility to create a patient-friendly, lifestyle centre with one stop shop for all necessary clinical assessment.
Diabetes was preventable, he said.
“Only if we live up to a personal healthy lifestyle and family food security, we would help fight against diabetes.
“The theme ‘The family and diabetes’ challenges us to work together and support each other to prevent, reverse or face the reality of diabetes in our homes,” he said.
“Each of us in our different level from the Parliament house to the grass roots, we must play our parts to prevent, reverse and control diabetes,” Dr Ghabu said.