- One in two people with diabetes don’t know they have the disease and remain undiagnosed.
- It is also predicted that by 2030 the number of adults living with diabetes will rise to 643 million, and to 784 million by 2045.
Diabetic patients are calling on the government and policymakers to increase access to diabetes education.
They said awareness will help improve the lives of people living with diabetes especially from marginalised areas.
Fifty-seven-year-old Michael Njoroge from Laikipia county has Type tw0 diabetes.
He urged the government to pull up their socks since diabetics in marginalised areas feel neglected.
“Marginalisation leads to social, economic, physical, psychological and physiological deterioration. This eventually results in poor health outcomes," Njoroge said.
"Where I come from for example, specialists have little knowledge on diabetes management.”
He said the specialists do not provide detailed information on the various foods one should eat and those to avoid.
“You have to go an extra mile and research, to find what works for you. What about a person who cant access information? What happens to them?” Njoroge said.
He also said the government needs to subsidise the cost of drugs and blood sugar monitors as they are very expensive.
“I understand people from urban areas can access these equipment, but what about us? Our local clinics lack such equipment," Njoroge said.
"I have to travel from Dol Dol to Nanyuki town to buy those strips and get the medicine from the district hospital. If I do not have the money, I cannot even travel.”
Njoroge said he has been saving money for months, to buy the Sh4,000 machine.
“I also have a family to feed, so I usually go to the hospital for tests, whenever the specialist is available,” he said.
Njoroge wishes that the government and policymakers could create more seminars by Community Organising Training, to educate them on the management, at the local level.
“It is very painful to see some people with diabetes living normal lives because they can access these things, yet we are neglected,” he said.
“People living with diabetes need access to diabetes education. This includes nutrition, understanding their condition and being taught on daily self-care, to stay healthy and avoid complications.”
One in two people with diabetes don’t know they have the disease and remain undiagnosed.
It is also predicted that by 2030 the number of adults living with diabetes will rise to 643 million, and to 784 million by 2045.
Njoroge said they appreciate the clinics available at the district level that have specialists, but he wishes there were more clinics at the community level.
"Some people live with diabetes all their lives and die with it even without knowing,” he said.
The World Health Organization says for people living with diabetes, access to affordable treatment, including insulin, is critical to their survival.
There is a globally agreed target to halt the rise in diabetes and obesity by 2025.
It is further estimated estimates that about 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, with majority living in low-and middle-income countries.
Also, 1.5 million deaths are directly attributed to diabetes each year.
The Star also talked to a clinical specialist, Jalango Atieno, with the Diabetes Kenya Association.
She said with the rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases, the government is improving access to diabetes care, by setting up diabetes clinics in as many hospitals.
However, Atieno said funding is one of the barriers to effective diabetes care in Kenya.
She said many patients, especially in marginalised areas struggle to receive this basic diabetes care.
“They face several barriers including distance to the healthcare facilities, lack of awareness, affordability of medicine, availability of diagnostic and monitoring tests and poor local health system capacity,” Atieno said.
She further said after the Covid-19 pandemic situation, everything became worse, but they hope the government will introduce and continue supporting diabetes care.
THS YEAR'S THEME
World Diabetes Day, celebrated annually every November 14, provides an opportunity to raise awareness of diabetes as a global public health issue.
It focuses on what needs to be done, collectively and individually, for better prevention, diagnosis and management of the condition.
This year’s theme, ‘access to diabetes education’, underpins the larger multi-year theme of 'access to care'.
WHAT IS DIABETES
Diabetes is one of the diseases that affect the endocrine system.
The pancreas produces the hormone insulin.
In Type one diabetes, the insulin producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed.
In Type two diabetes, insulin is still produced but the body becomes resistant to it.
Almost every organ in the body can be adversely affected with the onset of diabetes.
But with regular screening, timely intervention and care, the disease can be kept under check.
The initial symptoms could be excessive thirst, excessive appetite, excessive urination and swelling of feet.
Delayed wound healing, frequent infections, nausea, vomiting and weight loss may be other symptoms.