In a historic event to commemorate the World Diabetes Day (WDD), people of the town of Udo in the Ovia Southwest Local Government Area of Edo State, turned out massively yesterday (November 14th) to participate in a mass diabetes screening exercise which took place at the town’s Comprehensive Health Center under the auspices of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH).
The WDD event was supported by Sanofi, a global healthcare company focused on human health. The WDD event, which had the theme “The Family and Diabetes”, also saw the launch of a diabetes and hypertension clinic (DHC), a public-private partnership initiative between UBTH and Sanofi aimed at effective management of the diseases by bringing healthcare to the primary level of care and closer to people in underserved communities.
While addressing people at the event, the Chief Medical Director of UBTH, Prof. Darlington Obaseki said the event was organized by the hospital to mark the World Diabetes Day and to mobilize the community to a new awareness about the killer disease and measures to prevent or effectively manage it.
He described diabetes and hypertension as the two commonest non-communicable diseases seen in UBTH among adults. According to him, more than half of those who have the two diseases are unaware that they have them and often present for medical care too late. The screening exercise, he said, is necessary to detect the disease early and take a necessary medical intervention to avoid complications.
He commended the traditional ruler, the Iyase of Udo dukedom, HRH Patrick Igbinidu and his council of chiefs for mobilizing the people in their large numbers to participate in the disease awareness sessions and screening exercise. Prof. Obaseki also expressed delight with the commissioning of the DHC and the support from Sanofi.
In her speech, the General Manager Rx and Country Chair, Sanofi Nigeria-Ghana, Pharm. Folake Odediran said the growing burden of diabetes is a major public health concern and a development challenge because the disease forces many people and families into poverty due to catastrophic expenditures on treatment.
Odediran listed some barriers to the effective management of diabetes to include the low level of disease awareness, inability to access a health worker or health facility, poorly equipped health centers, inadequate number of health workers and inability to afford the cost of treatment.
To remove the barriers of access to healthcare, Odediran said that “our purpose is to understand the healthcare needs of people in places where we serve and to help in solving those needs. At Sanofi, we recognize that diabetes is a growing public health issue in Nigeria and we are taking definitive steps in tackling the disease burden through collaboration with stakeholders, such as the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH)”.
She reminded the participants that the commissioning of the DHC is in fulfillment of the terms of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that the company signed with UBTH in July this year.
The DHC project, she said, is a social responsibility project of Sanofi to help strengthen the health system and remove some of the barriers of access to healthcare by promoting public disease awareness about diabetes and hypertension, upskilling healthcare practitioners through training and providing easy access for people in underserved communities to check their health status and receive appropriate medical care.
The DHC focuses efforts at the primary level of care and the often neglected underserved population.