A staggering 80 percent of people living with diabetes in Nigeria are only diagnosed after they develop serious complications such as vision loss, nerve damage, or heart disease, according to new research from the International Diabetes Federation.
Almost all, 94 percent, of those surveyed in the country, had experienced one or more diabetes complications during the course of their life with the disease.
The survey was conducted among people with diabetes across Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America to understand the level of awareness and impact of diabetes-related complications.
Diabetes-related complications can be serious and, in some cases, life-threatening. They include damage to the heart, eyes, kidneys, and feet.
The risk of complications places significant stress on people living with diabetes as more than half (55 percent) of respondents in Nigeria say they worry most days about developing diabetes-related complications.
The risk of complications can be significantly reduced through early detection, timely treatment, and informed self-care, the researchers stated.
When asked about preventing complications, four out of five respondents (82 percent) in Nigeria believe they could have done more while more than half (57 percent) think their healthcare provider could have done more.
Osarenkhoe Chima-Nwogwugwu, who lives with Type 2 Diabetes, reacting to the findings said it is shocking that many people in Nigeria only find out about their condition after experiencing a complication.
She called for increased awareness and education to support the early detection and management of complications.
“We know that, with the right information and care, people living with diabetes can greatly reduce their risk of complications. Also, there are steps that people at risk of type 2 diabetes can take to delay or prevent the onset of the condition altogether. It is key to know your level of risk, know what you should be looking for, and know how to respond,” she said.
Several risk factors increase the chance of developing type 2 diabetes. These include family history, weight, age, ethnicity, inactivity, and diabetes during pregnancy, some of which can be reduced through healthy eating habits and physical activity.
Improving understanding and awareness of the risk factors is therefore important to support prevention, early diagnosis, and timely treatment.
Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for over 90 percent of all diabetes, often develops silently, with symptoms that go unnoticed.
As a result, many people with the condition, more than 50 percent in some countries, are not diagnosed and, as the research suggests, complications are already present.
The most common complications experienced among survey respondents in Nigeria were depression (55 percent), along with eye (40 percent), foot (40 percent), and oral health (40 percent) problems.
“For those without access to the right support, diabetes and its complications can seriously impact day-to-day life and even become life-threatening,” Chima-Nwogwugwu added.
She also noted that healthcare professionals must be equipped with the knowledge and resources to diagnose diabetes early and provide appropriate support.
The IDF commissioned Arlington Research, an independent market research agency, to conduct global online research on 700 adults living with diabetes around the world, including in Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Pakistan, India, China, and Nigeria.