Diabetes robbing country of economically active people – Health Minister

Health Minister Dr Kwaku Agyemang- Mensah, has said that deaths due to diabetes are increasingly occurring among people aged 29 to 39 years, which is the most economically productive age group of a nation’s population.

Dr Agyemang-Mensah was speaking at the launch of the 2014 World Diabetes Day, which falls on November 14, and is based on the theme ‘Healthy Eating and Diabetes’.

He said the direct economic cost of diabetes in terms of medical care and loss of human resource on a nation could not be over-emphasized.

Dr Agyemang-Mensah added that a significant number of diabetic patients in Africa did not have access to appropriate treatment including medication, particularly insulin, leading to the onset of avoidable complications that include stroke, heart disease and kidney failure.

The Health Minister urged Ghanaians to take preventative measures such as healthy eating, which is the focus of this year’s awareness campaign.

This year’s campaign marks the first of a three-year (2014-16) focus on healthy living and diabetes. According to the International Diabetes Federation, it is estimated that indicate that there are 382 million people living with diabetes. By 2035, one person in ten will have the disease.

The key messages of the campaign include:

  • Make healthy food the easy choice
  • Healthy eating: make the right choice
  • Healthy eating begins with breakfast

There are two types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes is usually caused by an auto-immune reaction where the body’s defence system attacks the cells that produce insulin.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for at least 90% of all cases of diabetes. It is characterised by insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency, either or both of which may be present at the time diabetes is diagnosed.

Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a form of diabetes consisting of high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. It develops in one in 25 pregnancies worldwide and is associated with complications to both mother and baby.