In observance of “World Diabetes Day,” World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, emphasizes the need for family support to people struggling with the disease.
She says while diabetes can sometimes occur as the result of genetic factor, family support to a relative struggling with the disease is a key benefit for them.“For instance, families can choose to buy and serve healthy and balanced diets, encourage participation in physical activity, and promote healthy living environments. Prevention of Type 2 diabetes and other non-communicable diseases should begin early in childhood and continue throughout life,” he admonishes.
The WHO official observes that in many settings in Africa, half of the people living with Type-2 diabetes are unaware of their disease and are not receiving treatment.
She made the call recently at program marking the observance of the 2018 World Diabetes Day at the Ministry of Health in Congo Town outside Monrovia.
The WHO Regional Director, whose message was conveyed through a proxy, notes that early diagnosis and treatment are important for preventing complications of diabetes.Doctor Moeti continues that since diabetes can potentially strike any family, awareness of the signs, symptoms and risk factors is important to help detect it early.
“Having diabetes can also drain family finances when people with diabetes have to pay out of their own pockets for treatment. Disability or premature death due to diabetes can push families into poverty, diabetes is also a huge burden on the healthcare system and the national economy,” she further warns.
However, she discloses there is hope, as world leaders have agreed to take responsibility themselves for their countries’ effort to prevent and treat non-communicable diseases, including diabetes.
She says they committed to implementing public education and awareness campaigns to empower individuals and families with information and education to prevent diseases like Type-2 diabetes, and ensure that people have access to early detection, diagnosis and treatment.
However, Doctor Moeti calls on governments around the world to accelerate access to such services for everyone, through people-centered primary health care and universal health coverage.
She adds that WHO will continue to support governments to improve the prevention and control of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases.
“I urge everyone to eat healthily, be physically active and avoid excessive weight gain. Families can help to drive down diabetes through promoting healthy lifestyles and supporting family members with diabetes”, she recommends.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti–Editing by Jonathan Browne