Taking Diabetes Treatment to Rural Communities

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L-R: Senior Medical Officer, UBTH, Dr. John Abebe; Iyase of Udo, HRH Patrick Igbinidu; General Manager Rx and Country Chair, Sanofi Nigeria-Ghana, Pharm. Folake Odediran; Chief Medical Director, UBTH, Prof. Darlington Obaseki at the commissioning of the Diabetes and Hypertension Centre in Benin recently

Adibe Emenyonu writes on the free diabetes, hypertension screening and treatment conducted by the University of Benin Teaching Hospital in partnership with Sanofi Pharmaceuticals to mark the World Diabetes Day in Edo State

The growing burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes has been a major health concern for quite some time. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 4.4 per cent of Nigerian population are affected by the disease with other complications such as hypertension, kidney failure and all that.

This is because the ailment has become not only a health problem but a development challenge as it forces many families into poverty due to huge expenditure on treatment. Apart from this, it also impacts patient’s quality of life and undercuts productivity.

Although diabetes can be effectively managed through interventions that include early diagnosis and access to healthcare, a number of factors still exist today which collectively are found to constitute barriers to its effective management.

These factors according to medical research includes low level of awareness about the disease, inability of patients to access health workers or health facilities, poorly equipped healthcare centre, inadequate number of health workers and the inability to afford the high cost of treatment.

The result of these factors is that many do not seek treatment at all or even when they do so, it is late and usually when the disease has become critical.

It is against this backdrop that Sanofi, a global healthcare company, dedicated to human health with operations in Nigeria and Ghana, collaborated with the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), to take diabetes awareness to rural communities of Edo State.
The awareness campaign coincided with the World Diabetes Day, theme: “The Family and Diabetes”.

According to the General Manager Rx and Country Chair, SANOFI Nigeria-Ghana, Mrs. Folake Odediran, “The theme of today’s event is very apt because we recognise that family members are ultimately caregivers who play a major role in supporting people living with diabetes”.

She said because the company recognises that diabetes is a growing health issue in Nigeria, it took the bold initiative to tackle the disease burden through collaboration with stakeholders in the health sector such as the UBTH.

Odediran disclosed that in July this year, the firm signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with management of UBTH, Benin to implement specific programmes in noncommunicable diseases like diabetes and hypertension clinic project which is “a social responsibility initiative of SANOFI to help reduce the barrier of access to healthcare by bringing healthcare closer to the people”.

She further added that the initiative is meant to strengthen the healthcare system through ” promoting public disease awareness about diabetes and hypertension, training of healthcare practitioners to effectively manage the diseases, provide access to public for early diagnosis of the disease as well as provide patients with education and counseling about their disease conditions”.

The campaign also includes free screening of diabetes, hypertension and other ailments like skin and eye diseases conducted by staffers of UBTH and traditional rulers, chiefs, artisans and traders were part of those screened for diabetes, hypertension, skin and eye diseases. The beneficiaries were also counseled not to panic about having high blood sugar but to take their drugs regularly and eat appropriate diet.

In his address, the Chief Medical Director, UBTH, Prof. Darlington Obaseki, told the people that expert medical personnel have been deployed to the UBTH facility within their domain to provide quality healthcare in rural communities.

Obaseki said the Diabetes and Hypertension Clinic built at the UBTH annex in collaboration with Sanofi was to curb movement of people with diabetes and related ailment from the rural areas to Benin City.

He stated that facility at the hospital have been upgraded as 13 babies were born through caesarian session at the hospital.

Elated by the free medical care, the traditional ruler of Udo community, HRH Patrick Igbinidu thanked management of UBTH and SANOFI pharmaceutical for the giant stride in providing free medical care to people of the area.
The royal father who spoke on behalf of traditional rulers of 26 other communities that benefited, particularly expressed gratitude to Prof. Obaseki for the renovation of some dilapidated structures, sinking of an industrial water borehole, reconstruction and revitalisation of the nurses’ hostels and installation of street lights at the UBTH Comprehensive Health Centre, Udo.

He also appreciated Sanofi pharmaceutical company for citing an ultramodern diabetes-hypertension clinic at the UBTH health centre, Udo.

The campaign also featured a drama presentation by the Diabetes Association of Nigeria.
Chairperson of the association in Edo State, Hajia Sheidu, while explaining the import of the drama, said diabetes is not a killer disease if people apply what she termed DTM, an acronym for Discipline: applying discipline in what one eats. Time: eating little food at a time, and moderation: eating moderately.

She also explained to the people that diabetes shows complications as it affects the kidney, blood sugar, reduces fertility and advised that those suffering from the disease should avoid mineral drinks and beer but rather drink more water, eat enough vegetables and exercise regularly.

“Diabetes is manageable. It does not kill if you are discipline”, she said.

Highlights of the event was the commissioning of the Diabetes-Hypertention Clinic at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) Comprehensive Healthcare Centre, Udo in Ovia Southwest local government area of Edo State by SANOFI team in conjunction with management of UBTH.