Dr Atiase, who is the Head of the Diabetes Centre at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, explained that from being a rare disease 50 years ago, diabetes was now everywhere in the country, adding that half the patients on admission at hospitals were being diagnosed with diabetes, even though they were on admission for different ailments.
Speaking at the launch of affordable access to diabetes care and the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Sanofi, the French multinational pharmaceutical and healthcare company, in Accra last Friday, Dr Atiase called for aggressive public education on the disease, as was done in 2020 during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That, the consultant diabetologist and endocrinologist said, would enable everybody to know about the disease and how to manage it.
“I describe it as an epidemic or even a pandemic because now the disease is everywhere. Diabetes is becoming predominant, not only in adults but also children, and it is affecting our aged; it is affecting everybody.
“We did well in 2020 with the COVID-19. There was massive education to the extent that everybody knew about the pandemic and how to manage it.
“There are people with all the symptoms — urinating frequently, losing weight, etc. — but it hasn’t crossed their minds that they have diabetes. There is work to be done,” Dr Atiase stressed.
The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, signed the MoU on behalf of the ministry, while the Head of Sanofi sub-Saharan Africa, Dr Stephane Gokou, initialled for the company.
Under the MoU, healthcare authorities in the country will be able to purchase affordable high-quality Sanofi analogue insulin produce.
It also provides for the deployment of diabetes management solutions in four Ghanaian diabetes centres where 500 healthcare professionals will benefit from a targeted medical training programme.
In addition, Sanofi will co-develop a digital solution to help physicians, nurses, pharmacists and community healthcare workers to better support more than 5,000 people living with diabetes in Ghana.
The agreement will also provide patient support initiatives and measures designed to help strengthen the Ghanaian health system.
Managing diabetes epidemic
Dr Atiase said to manage a diabetes epidemic, healthcare workers must be bombarded with education to the point where they would know what to do for patients with the disease and also for patients to have excellent comprehensive care.
It also required access to health care and medication by patients, she said, adding that every community must have a place where diabetic patients could be seen.