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Sanofi plans summit to tackle diabetes in 5 million Nigerian citizens

Published on 17/10/17 at 10:02am

Sanofi Aventis Nigeria plans to put together a National Diabetes Summit to address crisis in the country as five million of the nation’s citizens currently live with the condition. Health professionals gathered to discuss the situation at a press conference in Lagos to herald the first incarnation of the summit, highlighting the need for immediate action.

“According to WHO as at 2014, we have a burden of 387 million globally but in 2035, the number will increase to almost 600 million,” remarked Dr Philip Ikeme, Medical Director, Sanofi – Nigeria & Ghana. “People no longer exercise that means there is increase in obesity and when obesity sets in, the ability to manage the blood sugar becomes more difficult. Things like this push us towards the diabetic end of the spectrum.”

Ikeme blamed the growing public consumption of artificial foods and the propagation of unhealthy lifestyles, adding that as much as half of cases of the condition go undiagnosed, while half of those that do have the condition are unaware of it. Because of this, patients who, on average, have unknowingly had the disease for 15-20 years will have suffered blood sugar abnormalities a minimum of 5-10 years by the time they approach a health professional, which causes the majority of patients to experience complications by the time of diagnosis. To combat this, he called for regular screening to identify the disease.

Just three years ago, Nigeria had a lower incidence of diabetes in the region compared to South Africa and Ethiopia, but this has since risen to make the country with the highest burden of the disease in Sub Saharan Africa.

Sanofi’s summit will combat this by sharing the latest diabetes management techniques with specialist doctors, nurses, family physicians, diabetologists and other experts.

“Diabetes is not a disease you can cure but can be treated and managed. If treated well, the patients will have a normal life like anybody else. It is also a disease where patients have more responsibility than the physician,” Ikeme added.

Matt Fellows

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