The World Health Organization or (W.H.O.) Country Representative to Liberia, Mr. Alex Gasasira, has alarmed over the increasing number of people living with diabetes in Africa, something which he said, has caused the death of many people across the Continent.
He describes diabetes as along lasting disease that causes blood pressure and sugar level in human beings to rise too high which over time may lead to another serious damage to vital organs of the body, including gangrene or infection of the feet that often leads to amputation.
Mr. Gasasira made the disclosure on Friday, April 7, in a press briefing at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism on Capitol Hill, Monrovia. He further disclosed there are two main types of diabetes: 1 and 2, adding that type 1 diabetes is characterize by insufficient insulin production in the body.
The W. H. O. Country Representative explains that people with this type of diabetes require daily injection of insulin, while type 2 diabetes results from ineffective usage of insulin in the body, which is responsible for about 90 percent of all diabetes and is increasingly occurring in younger age groups.
Insulin is a hormone that is important for metabolism and utilization of energy from the ingested nutrients – especially glucose. “Unhealthy diets, lack of physical exercise, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, obesity and overweight are some of the factors that could contribute to type 2 diabetes”, he said, and noted, globally the number of people living with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014, saying in the African region, this has risen from 4 million to 25 million during the same period.
This sharp rise is a result of rapid uncontrolled urbanization, globalization and major changes in lifestyle with a resultant increase in the prevalence of the lifestyle risk factor, he said,and emphasized that diabetes imposes a substantial public health and socio-economic burdens in the face of scarce resources.
Mr. Gasasira explains that the disease can be prevented by maintaining normal body weight, engaging in regular physical activity, eating healthy diets that include sufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables and avoiding alcohol consumption and the use of tobacco, saying“Early diagnosis and treatment is critical to prevent the development of complications; equally important is the need to strength public awareness about diabetes to reduce the chances of developing and dying from the disease.”
Meanwhile, the W.H.O. Country Representative alsoreminded that April 7 each year is celebrated as World Health Day, and this year’s celebration focuses on diabetes prevention and control. The Executive Director ofLiberia Diabetes Testing and Awareness Center, Mr. James Momoh, recently called on Liberians to know their diabetes symptoms due to the prevalence of the disease and its complications, noting that the disease is becoming the second leading cause of death in Liberia.
Mr. Momohsaid since the inception of the Center, data collected indicates that diabetes is becoming a major health crisis in the country that could likely lead to loss of many lives. He said diabetes is a disease that develops when the body does not make enough insolence or unable to utilize the insolence it produces. Mr. Momoh added that due to lack of awareness on the prevalence of the disease and its complications, it is becoming the second leading cause of death in Liberia and called on Liberians to partner with the Liberia Diabetes Testing and Awareness Center in getting tested for diabetes.
By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne