World Diabetes Day: Influx of sugar-sweetened beverages harmful to public health

The influx of sugar-sweet­ened beverages on the Gha­naian market continues to pose harm to the public and contributes to the increase in diabetes among chil­dren, Dr Efua Commeh, the Programmes Manager of Non-Communicable Diseas­es (NCDs) at the Ghana Health Service (GHS), has lamented.

According to her, data from four regions; Greater Accra, Ashanti, Eastern and Central regions, indicated that nearly 1,000 children were living with type-one diabetes, and annually, at least 200,000 people were diagnosed with diabetes.

“Currently, the prevalence of diabetes is between six and nine per cent. These are people who come through our systems and can be captured, but there are more outside who may not know their status and that is why we encourage everyone to adopt healthy lifestyle; eat healthy, do physical ac­tivities and screen regularly for your blood sugar level because everyone is at risk,” she advised at an event to commemorate this year’s World Diabetes Day (WDD) in Accra yesterday.

On the theme “Access to diabetes care-education to protect tomorrow,” this year’s WDD highlights the need for greater education on the part of health workers and general public to better detect, diagnose and manage the condition for improved life.

Dr Commeh said people with family history of diabetes mellitus (DM), have a parent or sibling with DM, aged 45 years and above, obese, physically inactive and practiced unhealthy lifestyles, among others were at high risk of diabetes.

She stated that the cost of diabetes care in the country was expensive and people must guard against the condition.

“A test strip costs at least five cedis and you need to test three to four times a day, others will need to test once a week. Glu­cometers cost between GH¢200- GH¢300. You will need to frequently do labs, regular reviews and buy medications which are very expensive, so often the average person is unable to afford.”

“Productivity is affected; the family is affected so cost is not just financial. Even the emotional cost of being on injections, insulin and others for the rest of your life is draining and we must all prevent diabetes as much as possible,” she stated.

A Deputy Minister of Health, Tina Naa Ayeley Mensah, who launched the celebra­tion, said the ministry through the National Health Policy was seeking to prioritise awareness creation for prevention and con­trol of diabetes.

“Diabetes goes beyond the health system, and the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how far we can go with strong collaborative efforts, and I call on other partners to come on board to help prevent and improve dia­betes treatment outcomes,” she said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Director, Dr Francis Kasolo, in a speech read on his behalf, urged the gov­ernment to prioritise investment in essential diabetes products such as insulin, glucome­ters and test strips.

“This is critical to ensure equitable acces­sibility for everyone living with diabetes no matter where they are,” he said, pledging the WHO’s commitment to fully support interventions in the training of health workers in the prevention and management of NCDs.


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