Addressing access to diabetes care on World Diabetes Day

Marks 100 years of the life-saving insulin and reiterates commitment to practical diabetes solutions

Every year on the 14th of November, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) engages with various stakeholders to raise awareness about diabetes globally. This year, the theme for World Diabetes Day is – Access to Diabetes Care: If not now, when? Today, Novo Nordisk hosted key stakeholders in the English-speaking West-African region, to a two-hour webinar and panel discussion in commemoration of World Diabetes Day.

The webinar, themed “Addressing access to diabetes care” had diabetes experts from Ghana and Nigeria address the diabetes burden and access to care challenges. The speakers included Professor Felicia Anumah (Professor of Medicine and Endocrinology, Dean of Clinical Sciences, University of Abuja), Dr. Yacoba Atiase (Director, National Diabetes Management and Research Centre, Ghana), Mr. Samuel Omega (Ho Municipal Hospital, Ghana), and Mr. Jude Abonu (Business Unit Head, English West Africa, Novo Nordisk). Discussions provided insight into some of the scientific breakthroughs as well as efforts to reduce the barriers to diabetes care.

Speaking on the theme and using Ghana as a case study, Dr. Yacoba Atiase, Director, National Diabetes Management and Research Centre and endocrinologist at Korle bu Teaching Hospital, said, “Over 4 in 5 adults with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries. 537 million adults (20-79 years) are living with diabetes globally and this number is predicted to rise to 643 million by 2030.”1.

Attributing a high spike in deaths due to diabetes, the endocrinologist stated that diabetes is responsible for 6.7 million deaths in 2021 – 1 every 5 seconds2. She revealed that in Ghana, 1.8 per cent of the adult population, estimated to be 281,100 adults, have diabetes, and could rise to about 683,073 adults by 20453.

Providing similar statistics, Professor of Medicine and Endocrinology, and Dean, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, University of Abuja, Professor Felicia Anumah, highlighted the diabetes challenge in Nigeria. Professor Anumah cited several factors that impact diabetes care including limited knowledge about the disease leading to delayed diagnosis, socio-economic realities, and suboptimal adherence to treatment. She mentioned that one out of 13 adults in Nigeria had pre-diabetes, and 63,958 people died due to diabetes-related causes in 20194.

“In Nigeria, 54 percent of the population live on 1 USD or less a day. We run mainly an out-of-pocket system which accounts for 76% of total health expenditure in Nigeria. The cost of treating diabetes in one year without complications is about N300,000-N500,000, and over N1,500,000 when complications develop, such as diabetic foot and much more.” concluded Professor Anumah.

Speaking on iCARE, the access to care initiative by Novo Nordisk, the Business Unit Head, English West-Africa, Mr. Jude Abonu, shared more details on the holistic approach currently adopted by the company to increase access to diabetes care in Africa. The Head of Administration at the Ho Municipal Hospital, Ghana, Mr. Samuel Omega, highlighted the role comprehensive approaches to addressing diabetes care play in improving overall outcomes for people living with diabetes. He gave deep insight into the impact of the iCARE initiative on people living with diabetes and health care professionals in Ho Municipal Hospital and Ghana at large.

2021 also marks the 100th year anniversary of insulin discovery. The treatment, which was discovered in 1921, was first used to save the life of Leonard Thompson, a 14-year-old boy with type 1 diabetes. This key milestone in medical history set the tone for the panel session, where the experts discussed the impact of a multi-stakeholder response in addressing existing gaps in access to diabetes care and emphasized the need for further collaboration to improve access to diabetes care for all.

Novo Nordisk in collaboration with partners has had a long-standing commitment to addressing access to diabetes care in Africa through initiatives like its Base of the Pyramid (BoP) and Buddy Doctor Initiative programs to implement innovative and sustainable solutions. As a leader with over 90 years of experience in diabetes care, Novo Nordisk is committed to improving access to quality diabetes care for vulnerable populations in Nigeria.