Alarming Rise of Diabetes in Nigeria Calls for Immediate Attention

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The health sector is deeply concerned about the alarming rate of diabetes among Nigerians. Shockingly, out of every 1000 individuals, 36 are affected by this debilitating disease.


However, the true challenge lies in the fact that many of them lack access to adequate healthcare and the necessary knowledge to maintain their well-being.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) is committed to promoting and supporting the implementation of effective measures for diabetes surveillance, prevention, and control, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

Their initiatives include providing scientific guidelines for preventing major noncommunicable diseases, developing standards for diabetes diagnosis and care, raising global awareness about the diabetes epidemic, and conducting surveillance of diabetes and its risk factors.


In April 2021, WHO launched the Global Diabetes Compact, a global initiative focused on improving diabetes prevention and care, with a specific emphasis on supporting low- and middle-income countries. This comprehensive effort aims to bring about lasting improvements in diabetes management.



In May of the same year, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution to strengthen the prevention and control of diabetes. In May 2022, they endorsed five global targets for diabetes coverage and treatment to be achieved by 2030.


One of these targets is to ensure that 80 percent of individuals living with diabetes are diagnosed and effectively manage their blood sugar levels and blood pressure.



The prevalence of diabetes continues to rise globally, with an estimated 537 million adults between the ages of 20 and 79 living with the disease. This number is projected to increase to 643 million by 2030 and 784 million by 2045.

Furthermore, over 80% of adults with diabetes reside in low- and middle-income countries, resulting in 6.7 million deaths in 2021, or one death every five seconds.


An additional 541 million adults suffer from Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT), which puts them at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

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In Africa, 24 million people suffer from diabetes, while Europe has 61 million, the Middle East and North Africa have 73 million, Southeast Asia has 90 million, the Western Pacific has 206 million, South and Central America have 32 million, and North America and the Caribbean have 51 million.

Managing diabetes requires significant health expenditure, with costs estimated at $966 billion, a 316% increase over the past 15 years. Additionally, identifying risk factors for the disease remains uncertain, although having a family history of diabetes increases the likelihood of developing the disease.


Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, but it is most commonly diagnosed in childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood, and there is currently no known prevention.

Efforts to improve diabetes care and achieve Universal Health Coverage have led to the adoption of the PEN-Plus regional strategy by the Ministers of Health at the 72nd WHO Regional Committee for Africa in August 2022.

This strategy focuses on integrating outpatient care for severe and chronic NCDs at first-referral level health facilities.

According to experts, individuals with certain characteristics, such as being overweight, being 45 years or older, having a family history of type 2 diabetes, and being physically inactive, are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

However, type 2 diabetes is preventable and can be delayed through lifestyle changes.For gestational diabetes, the risk factors include having had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy, giving birth to a baby weighing over nine pounds, being overweight or over 25 years old, having a family history of type 2 diabetes, and having a hormone disorder called Poly-cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).


While gestational diabetes is usually cured after childbirth, it increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.


In Nigeria, and many other African countries, lack of access to basic healthcare is a challenge for individuals with diabetes. Additionally, the lack of access to affordable insulin exacerbates the situation for those battling with the disease. The lack of awareness and accurate information about diabetes is also concerning.


These initiatives and targets highlight the urgent need to address the diabetes crisis and provide accessible and effective care for those affected. By working together, we can make significant strides in preventing and managing diabetes, ultimately improving the health and well-being of individuals worldwide.; 60 per cent of those older than 40 will be receiving treatment with statins; and 100 per cent of people with Type 1 diabetes will have access to affordable insulin and blood glucose self-monitoring.

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