The rate of diabetes in The Gambia is alarming, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Fatim Badjie, said as The Gambia joined other countries around the world to commemorate World Diabetes Day on 14th November.
Health Nutrition and Population Statistics, the World Bank’s comprehensive database of h , has it that diabetes prevalence in The Gambia among the population ages 20 to 79 is 4.26%, in 2010. However, though the rate of diabetes is said to be increasing, there is no latest statistics available as to the estimated percentage of the population with the disease or at risk of the disease.
The Health Minister noted that efforts must be employed to contain the situation. “There is an urgent need for action to protect the health of our people. Particular focus should be placed on the importance of education for health, targeting people who are diabetics and people at risk in order to reduce its impact in the world, Gambia in particular,” she said.
According to the Health Minister, diabetes can affect anyone especially those who are not watchful in terms of their diet. She said diabetes is a killer disease in terms of its complications.
Uncontrolled diabetics lead to blindness, impotence, kidney failure, stroke, heart disease, hypertension and amputation.
Gambia’s Health Minister noted that taking proper medication can help to improve the diabetes conditions “but we can live a normal and even healthier life with diabetes if we exercise regularly and watch what we eat”.
She pointed out that in The Gambia, like some other African countries; there is a growing appetite for foodstuff from overseas. “We have a tendency to abandon our traditional foodstuff and change our eating habits in the name of going out for ‘good living’. This tendency is contributes to increase rate in diabetes,” he said.
“It is fundamentally important that we watch what we eat. People with diabetics need to monitor their glucose levels, take medication, exercise regularly and adjust their eating habits,” she added.
Hon. Badjie challenged the youths, healthcare community, peer health educators, parents, guardians, teachers and the media to join forces to help those living with diabetes, prevent the condition in those at risk, and avoid unnecessary death and disability due to diabetes.
“Together we can educate and prevent the general public from diabetes and its related complications,” she remarked.
Without diabetes education, people with the condition are less prepared to take informed decisions, make behavioral change, address the psychosocial issues presented by diabetes and ultimately, may be ill equipped to manage their diabetes effectively.