February 28, 2024

Patrick Odey

A consultant physician and Endocrinologist, Dr. Sam Onung, has raised the alarm over the high death rates among diabetes patients while calling on the Akwa Ibom State government and public-spirited individuals to come to their aid by providing free medical treatment or greatly subsidise treatment and tests to curb the trend.

He expressed concern that the government is not paying the desired attention to diabetes as it is currently paying to Human Immunodeficiency Virus, adding that a survey had indicated that more people die from diabetes than HIV, Tuberculosis and malaria combined.

Dr Onung who is the Akwa Ibom State Coordinator of the Diabetes Association of Nigeria, stated this while speaking with our correspondent on Thursday about the activities marking this year’s World Diabetes Day with the theme, “Education to protect tomorrow”.

He said, “We are calling on the government and other good-spirited individuals to prevent our patients from dying since we are not giving diabetes the kind of attention it deserves.

“Diabetes is even killing more people than HIV, we need to give diabetes the kind of attention we are giving to HIV so that patients will not be dying out of an inability to afford their medications and do their laboratory tests to enable them to live normally.

“In Akwa Ibom, we have up to 10 per cent of the population living with diabetes, so in a population of about 6 million people in Akwa Ibom, we have nothing less than 600,000 thousand people living with diabetes, some of whom are dying already because they don’t have money to cater for themselves. We need help from the government and public-spirited individuals and organisations to avoid the needless death of members,” he said.

Dr. Onung said this year’s Diabetes awareness day was celebrated at the General Hospital, Iquita in the Oron Local Government Area of the state, adding 510 people were screened during the exercise.

He explained that this year’s theme was deliberately chosen because there was the need to let people know about diabetes, its signs and symptoms and the need for the public to go for blood sugar tests. And for living with the condition to know how to cope to avoid needless deaths.

Onung disclosed that more people are coming down with diabetes because of the change in lifestyle of individuals which was not the case several years ago.

He added, “More people are coming down with diabetes every day and the reason is that our lifestyle has changed. We are now living a Western-type of lifestyle and that is why many people are having diabetes.

“In the time of our forefathers, those ones used to be very active, they can trek a long distance to their farms as a form of exercise. They used to eat natural foods, fruits, and vegetables, not preserved fast and junk food which is considered unhealthy.

“By the time you combine physical inactivity and unhealthy diet, with increased stress these days we are bound to have more people coming down with diabetes. When people are stressed it negatively affects the endocrine system leading to uncontrollably high blood sugar.

He warned people against taking self-medication saying that it is not advisable to do so because diabetes for now has no cure.

He said, “It’s not advisable for people to be taking all sorts of the herbal mixture just to cure diabetes because diabetes, for now, has no cure. There is what we call effective treatment which consists of drugs and the lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and a healthy diet.

“Today, we celebrated the 81st birthday of one of our members who has been living with diabetes for over 30 years because he has been managing it well. 

“So, we should avoid self-medication because it can further harm us. Don’t allow anybody to deceive you by telling you that there is a drug you can take to cure diabetes or make disappear, because diabetes does not have a cure, but can be effectively managed.”

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