On Monday this week Malawi commemorated the World Diabetes Day at Machinga District Hospital with a revelation that women under the child bearing age are at high risk of developing diabetes.
The day falls on 14th November, each year but Malawi commemorated the day a little late due to logistical challenges.
Speaking at Machinga District Hospital where the commemorations took place after organisers abandoned Liwonde community ground as initial venue due to rains, chief director in the ministry of health and population responsible for administration Benson Chisamile said non communicable diseases ( NCDs) are fast constituting a growing health problem which is costing thousands of lives in this country.
Initially NCD’s were considered diseases for the west or rich people but recent trends have shown that everyone including the majority poor are being diognised with such diseases. Statistics from a 2009 Malawi NCDs steps survey show that NCDs account for 16% of all deaths.
“Diabetes is the ninth leading cause of death in women globally, causing 2.1 million deaths per year. Women with type 2 diabetes are almost 10 times more likely to have coronary heart disease than women without the condition. Women with type 1 diabetes have an increased risk of early miscarriage or having a baby with malformations. In Malawi, 6 in every 100 people (6%) aged 25 to 64 years suffer from diabetes, however, many people remain undiagnosed with only few presenting regularly to the hospital” Said Chisamire
He however admitted the country is lacking reliable data management and collection tools a development which leaves the ministry in a predicament to know the actual number of people dying due to diabetes and other NCD’s in order to develop evidence based interventions.
Chisamile then highlighted that through a project being funded by the World Diabetes Foundation (WDF), the ministry of health and population through Baobab Health Trust has started installation of electronic medical record systems at Kamuzu Central Hospital, Area 25 health center, Mzuzu Central hospital and Kasungu district hospital where data will be generated real time.
The audience patronising the event was inspired by a testimony by Mwalone Jangia of Machinga who was six years ago was diagnosed with diabetes but has managed to live a healthy life especially because of drug adherence and diet management.
“ Most people fail to manage what they eat and i appeal that they take this element seriously. Those experiencing signs such as increased hunger, dry mouth, frequent urination, blurred vision, slow healing sores and unexplained weight loss should quickly rush to the hospital for a test before complications worsen “ appealed Jangia looking healthy and emotional.
Others including chairperson for Machinga district council Margaret Uladi expressed dismay at the absence of critical testing kits for diabetes in most health facilities saying people’s conditions worsen in the villages because they have no funds to facilitate travel for the tests and entire management of the disease.
Patron for Diabetes Association of Malawi (DAM) John Bande said apart from increased awareness, its high time Malawi established her own diabetes center and train more medical personnel who can specialise in management of diabetes cases which are complicated.
Bande said DAM will soon embark on a massive awareness campaign targeting schools and rural communities on the importance of eating healthy and going for diabetes tests.
Adverse effects of diabetes can be mitigated by among other things avoiding harmful use of alcohol, smoking. Physical exercises and healthy eating habits also help.
The campaign this year promotes the importance of affordable and equitable access for all women at risk for or living with diabetes to the essential diabetes medicines and technologies, self-management education and information they require to achieve optimal diabetes outcomes and strengthen their capacity to prevent type 2 diabetes.
The event was commemorated under the theme “Women and Diabetes-Our right to a Health Future”