• Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Diabetes takes toll on Nigerians as drug price dries supply


Nigerians with diabetes are facing increasing difficulty with access to drugs due to soaring prices, hindering their ability to manage their blood sugar levels and effectively control the disease.

The high cost of insulin and other diabetes medications has placed a significant financial strain on individuals and families already struggling with the economic burden of diabetes.

Disease experts warn that with inadequate access to treatment, diabetic Nigerians face an increased risk of complications, including heart disease, stroke, blindness, and kidney failure.

Abiola Oduwole, a professor of Paediatric Endocrinology at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital said a lot of patients are declining visits to the hospital because they cannot afford prescription medicines.

She said the challenge coupled with the poor knowledge about disease management is robbing many people of the chance of avoiding severe comorbidities that arise from complications.

According to new research from the International Diabetes Federation, 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 related diseases.

Read also: 80% of diabetes cases in Nigeria undetected until complications arise

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 major thing now is access to drugs. It has become so expensive that a lot of our patients are not using their drugs and the moment you are not using your drugs, the chances that you will have complications is extremely high,” Oduwole told BusinessDay during a dance exercise convened by Queensbridge Prints and Gifts to mark this year’s World Diabetes Day.

“Diabetes on its own will not kill but the complications with the kidney, heart, vessels or nerves that cause severe comorbidity can make people lose their legs, go blind, or have a stroke.”

Oduwole, also former president, African Society for Paediatric Endocrinologists urged the government to intervene in reducing the exorbitant levies imposed on the importation of diabetes to boost affordability.

She said a few non-governmental organisations, private pharmaceutical companies, and philanthropists have raised support for indigent people with diabetes but such aid is not enough to cover government deficits.

She noted that governments in countries including Ghana, Kenya and Togo have set up measures to subsidise treatments for diabetes, leaving Nigeria behind.

Read also: Soaring prices leave Nigerians caught between food and medicine

“For a diabetes person, you need to check your blood sugar. A lot of our diabetes patients cannot afford a glucometer.

Abiola Sanni, founder and CEO of Queensbridge Prints and Gifts Nigeria Limited appealed with governments at local levels to provide subsidised treatments to indigents and promote lifestyle choices that prevent complications.

Sanni said the dance exercise to mark World Diabetes Day is the first being organised by the company as part of its corporate social responsibility to its host community, Alaka Estate, Surulere.

She urged people to stay ahead of the disease by exercising and choosing healthy diets.

“The local governments should organise free testing for people at least on a monthly basis. They should make provision for subsidized and empower people with lifestyle advice,” Sanni said.

“It is also important for people to exercise. We are trying to create awareness for people to check their health and make lifestyle adjustments that could prevent complications from the diseases.”
Read also: Nigeria, others could lose $100trn to drug-resistant diseases by 2050
Queensbridge Prints and Gifts Nigeria Limited is a brand development and procurement company specialised in corporate gifts, promotional products, and bespoke items.