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Regional News Mon, 27 Sep 2004

Stakeholders urged to lobby Government on diabetes management

Accra, Sept. 27, GNA - A Diabetes Specialist on Monday called on the Media and other key agencies to lobby Government to adopt an effective policy direction for the efficient management of diabetes, which has reached epidemic proportion in the country.

Dr Kwamina Beecham, President of the Ghana Diabetes Association (GDA), said very little emphasis was being placed on non-communicable diseases and this was hindering the needed investment to tackle diabetes.

He said the possibility of incorporating diabetes management into the primary health care system should be given consideration because of the enormous public health implications, high morbidity and mortality associated with the life-threatening condition.

Dr Beecham, who was speaking at a seminar on diabetes in Accra, said although there was a value added tax exemption on insulin importation needed for the management of the disease, other diabetic related drugs still attracted some form of taxes.

The seminar was organised by the Freemasons of Ghana in conjunction with the GDA, ahead of this year's World Diabetes Day slated for November.

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Ghana's diabetes prevalence rate is believed to have shot up from 0.4 per cent in the late 1950s to 6.3 per cent in 2000, giving cause for alarm as the disease is associated with lots of complications including blindness, limb amputations, impotence, kidney failure and death. Among some factors that precipitate the onset of the condition are sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy eating habits and obesity. Worldwide, there are about 170 million diabetes cases. Symptoms of the diabetes, which is incurable, include loss of weight, frequent passing of urine and thirst.

Prof. Samuel Owusu, former Dean of the University of Ghana Medical School, said public education was vital not only for awareness creation but also for the early detection and management of the disease, which was very expensive to treat.

He said a diabetic related death occurs every six minutes worldwide with the number of diabetic patients expected to rise to 300 million globally in 2025.

Mr John Allotey, a Representative of Novo Nordisk, the world's largest producer of insulin, said it was important that diabetic patients involved family members in the management of the disease.

He said lifestyles such as smoking, intake of alcohol and lapses in the strict in-take of prescribed drugs were causes for the worsening of the condition of diabetic patients.

Source: GNA
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