By Omar Bah
Health experts who gathered at the YMCA yesterday to commemorate World Diabetes Day 2017 have called for concerted efforts to control the dramatic increase of the disease in the Gambia and the sub-region.
This year’s commemoration, which began with a march-past from the Gamtel customer care on Kairaba Avenue to YMCA was themed: ‘Women and diabetes – our right to a healthy future.’
The campaign, according to the UN will promote the importance of affordable and equitable access for all women at risk of or living with diabetes to access diabetes medicines and technologies, self-management education and information they required to prevent type 2 diabetes.
Speaking at the event, the PS at health ministry Cherno Omar Barry said given the fact that there are currently over 199 million women living with diabetes globally, the need for concerted efforts to control the disease cannot be overemphasized.
He said the number is projected to increase to 313 million by 2040 if efforts are made quickly to ensure all women with diabetes are given affordable and equitable access to care and education to better manage their diabetes and improve their health outcomes.
He said two out of every five women with diabetes are of reproductive age, accounting for over 60 million women worldwide.
“This calls for concerted efforts from all stakeholders to curb the prevalence of the disease,” he said.
He said all women with diabetes should have access to the essential diabetes medicines and technologies, self-management education and information they need to achieve optimal diabetes outcomes.
“All women with diabetes should have access to pre-conception planning services to reduce risk during pregnancy. All women and girls should have access to physical activity to improve their health outcomes,” he said.
Meanwhile, the representative of the WHO Shkrimila Jah said the day is designed to re-commit the world to strengthen the prevention and control of diabetes.
She said globally, there has been a dramatic rise in obesity among children and adolescent aged between 5-19 old from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016.
“In Africa, the number of children who are overweight or obese has nearly doubled since 1990, increasing from 5.4 million to 10.3 million. In the African, in 2014, it was estimated that 22.9% of men and 38.6% women above the age of 18 were obese,” she explain.
She said the numbers signal the need for governments to take bold measures to ensure that women and girls have access to services for screening for diabetes, adequate care including medication and counseling.
“WHO will continue to support governments in their efforts to improve the prevention and control of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases,” she concluded.