HEALTH: Diabetes

Harriet Kaufman Adwoa,

 Registered Nurse, RN
 Masters in Science Nursing, MSN


Diabetes is a problem that has been increasing all over the world and Ghana is no exception. In an article of 2009 the World Health Organization stated that 246 million people worldwide had diabetes and they expect that number will increase to 380 million by the year 2029. In 2002 Ghana was classified as the African nation with the highest incidence of diabetes. After independence in 1957 the known incidence of this illness was 0.4%: that is 4 out of every 1000 people. In 2000 the rate had gone up ten times with an incidence of 4%: that’s 4 out of every 100 people! It was estimated that in 2002 6.3% of the population had been diagnosed with diabetes. With a national population of about 21 million, that’s one million three hundred and twenty three thousand people. Assuming that many people are out there that have not been diagnosed and the incidence has increased in the past 9 years that makes a lot of people here with this illness.

The significance of this illness to the country as a whole cannot be underestimated. If people are not diagnosed and treated well or they don’t adhere to their regimen, the medical costs are staggering. It is more than just the cost of medication, but the frequent visits to the clinic for complications and the hospitalizations for severe long term complications.

According to a health survey of the country it was shown that in the year 2001 the costs of treating one person per year was $180 - $420, the cost of dialysis for kidney failure was $9,000 - with a minimum daily wage of $1.20!!!! By 2007 those figures had changed: the cost of treating one person per year increased to $1,276 - $7, 660, the cost of dialysis increased to $16,600 and the daily minimum wage was $2.00. Where does the money come from to treat people with this illness? Some of it is paid for by the individual or their family and some comes from government programs which get their monies from the HIPPC initiative or from foreign loans. In a further assessment of health issues in this country the Austrian Red Cross determined that 40 % of our population was classified as poor with 25 – 30% of those working for the private sector also classified as poor. People who are unable to pay their health care look toward other family members for loans or assistance and when those cannot help they may look toward more distant family members or friends, who are also stressed to make ends meet. When family or friends can no longer help, the person is abandoned to their fate. Without the benefits of health insurance, many people would not be able to afford to go for care at all. Yet even this system must be supported from somewhere and at some point, someone expects a loan to be paid off whether it’s the individual or the government.

However, diabetes is not an illness of the poor. The rich may have access to better health care and higher quality foods but the illness affects them just the same. Both will need to make lifestyle changes that will ensure a healthier, longer life. Education is the key to health improvement.

This booklet is just one way to share information and hopefully assist people before the illness gets too far out of hand. Not only is it important for the diabetic to have this information, but all family members should be aware of the importance of adhering to lifestyle changes the diabetic needs to make so they can assist with their cooperation. Hopefully this booklet will help with some simple and more complex guidelines.

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