As the world commemorated World Diabetes Day on Monday, the Ugandan government said it is scaling up its fight against the disease that has afflicted over 500,000 people in the east African country.
Ruth Aceng, minister of health, in a statement to mark the day under the theme, “Eyes on Diabetes” said government is increasing the screening of diabetes and its complications.
Diabetes is one of the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) that the World Health Organization (WHO) warns is on the increase.
According to the global health body, NCDs are responsible for 63 percent of deaths worldwide and 80 percent of these deaths occur in low and middle income countries such as Uganda.
Globally, 415 million people were estimated to be leaving with diabetes in 2015 and the number is expected to increase to 640 million people by 2040.
In Uganda, ministry of health figures show that 1.3 percent of the country’s population (500,000 people) live with the disease. Of the afflicted people, 80 percent are not aware that they have the disease.
The disease in its later stages presents with difficult to manage complications including blindness, kidney failure, stroke and even impotence.
The risk factors for the disease include tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diets and harmful use of alcohol among others.
Aceng urged the public to avoid unhealthy lifestyles and go for regular screening and checkups to detect the disease early before complications set in.
“We must therefore up our awareness campaign efforts to prevent suffering and premature death” she said.
She said soon the ministry will spearhead screening of leaders beginning with Cabinet and members of parliament as a measure to use them as role models and advocates in prevention and control of diabetes.
On top of training health workers in prevention and control of diabetes, the health facilities are also going to be given the necessary equipment, drugs and supplies.
There are also going to be increased community outreaches where there would be screening and also sensitization on the prevention and control of diabetes.