The self-management of diabetes is a sure way to prolong the life expectancy of an individual living with diabetes, however, the method seems to be a leading reason to why most people are not able to survive the dire effects of the disease in today’s world specifically Ghana.
According to a medical officer, dr. Bernard Kyei, “diabetes is an endocrine disease. This means it’s a defect in the action of an organ within the body. In this case, the organ is the pancreas and It produces insulin”. Diabetes is a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood. In simple terms, a group of disease that results in too much sugar in the blood (high blood sugar). Insulin deficiency can be absolute or relative.
Absolute deficiency of diabetes is type 1 diabetes. It occurs when the pancreas is inefficient in the production of insulin. This type of diabetes is mostly prevalent during childhood. Relative deficiency of insulin better known as type 2 diabetes is where there is insulin resistance in the body. Gestational diabetes happens after the first trimester in a non-diabetic person.
Diabetes is a chronic illness. The life expectancy of people living with diabetes is relative. People suffering from type 2 diabetes have the tendency of living longer than people suffering from type one diabetes because on their case some amount of insulin is produced. It can be managed effectively to prevent complications.
Initially, Type 1 diabetes was mostly prevalent in the western countries more than African countries because of diet and hygiene. This is because, it is said that Africans are exposed to dirty stuff hence their immune system is always actively fighting resulting in a strong immune system. However, due to westernization, smoking, alcohol intake and junk food that has now been adapted into most lifestyles in Ghana, there is now high rates in diabetes.
425 million people have diabetes in the world and more than 16 million people in the AFR region; by 2045 it will be around 41 million. There were about 518.400 cases of diabetes in Ghana in 2017. Statistics recorded by the center for Non-communicable diseases indicates that 90 percent of all cases are not early in order to ensure early treatment. Additionally, 70% pf all diabetes cases are diagnosed only after death.
In an interview with a 48-year old diabetic patient, Adwoa Gyamfua, this was what she had to say about the disease four years down the line. “before I was diagnosed with diabetes, I used to experience intermittent weight loss, excessive unexplained fatigue, urine with white lather and peculiar odor, Extreme thirst and frequent urination. This led me to consult a doctor since I started bleeding in addition to all these. After a series of lab tests, it was discovered that I had type 2 diabetes with a sugar level of sugar level 22. The Doctor then advised a strict adherence to drugs. After sometime I sought advice from a specialist since I wasn’t getting any better. He told me my kidney was almost infected. We started medication and drugs were given to me within a three weeks interval (this changed as we progressed). Then I started reacting to the drugs normally drugs made in Ghana or India. My doctor told me Hypertension led to me acquiring diabetes. When the drugs gets finish, I get some but when I’m not feeling fine, I see the doctor. It’s expensive so you’re not able to purchase all. Most often, I purchase some till I’m done with the time range the doctor gave me. When the sugar rises, I get rashes and Sore on my breast and chest. It is very expensive because the dieting is very Important and in Ghana eating healthy comes at a cost and this makes it hard to manage. There is no free medication for the treatment of diabetes. The self-management is good and not good at the same time. The cost the illness comes with makes it difficult to manage it.”
A relative of this diabetic person, Yayra, told us about her experience coping with the illness. “I had some knowledge about diabetes. I knew that one type was genetic and the other was acquired. I also knew that it has no cure. I was shocked and sad because it wasn’t a disease, I thought she will develop. I knew the expenses will have a toll on the family. I had to deal with her depression and mine as well. The initial stages of the illness were ok but it got to a time the drugs weren’t working.at this time we are hoping to see an improvement. I believe self-management coupled with periodic visit to the doctor will aid the life expectancy of anyone suffering from diabetes. People are using the self-management nature of the disease to engage in drug abuse which shouldn’t be the case. However, it happens because the treatment of diabetes is too expensive so most people will keep buying and prescribing the drugs, they need to take without necessarily seeing a doctor. In most cases, drugs that are affordable are of low quality.
Self- management is not totally aiding the treatment of diabetes. The dosing of medication has an influence on the glucose produced. Stress also has an influence on diabetes. The almost lies on you to follow review. It is important to see your doctor regularly to make sure the drugs are functioning properly. Relatively those with an idea about the drug can manage it. However periodic visits are needed to avoid complications when stressed. Self-management is not the best but, in few times, it can provide good sugar control but it always lacks detection of complication.
Dr. kyei added, “Management of diabetes is an individual approach. It is a collaborative effort between the patient, the doctor and the community. Community can engage in lifestyle organizations exercise, routine check encourages. Comply to education. Doctor: educating patients good prescription encouraging that good blood sugar is maintained. Individual: following instructions and changing lifestyle. Branded drugs and generic drugs. Access to oral tablets. Generic ones are relatively expensive. Although there is access to drugs in oral drugs in most hospitals, these are normally generic drugs that are of low quality as compared to these branded drugs. Health practitioners can help through procurement of diabetic drugs both branded and generic drugs. However, insulin is not sponsored and in villages it is a struggle.”
Self- management of diabetes can only be helpful if patients are in constant communication with their doctors to prevent them from developing any complication and abusing drugs.
Joangellen Edinam Archibald
Ghana institute of journalism