About 90 per cent of diabetes cases are as a result of excess weight gain, obesity, physical inactivity and poor lifestyles including bad nutrition services and lack of exercise, health experts said in a diabetes summit held in Nairobi.
According to Dr. Eva Njenga (pictured), a leading Kenyan consultant endocrinologist, not smoking, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and limiting alcohol intake can help people stay healthy. She said that the burden of diabetes epidemic threatens Kenya’s healthcare system and the economy at large with the disease having a national prevalence rate of 3.1% to 4.6 % approximately between 1.4 million people to 2.1 people affected.
“The burden is related to health system costs incurred by society in managing the disease, indirect costs resulting from productivity losses due to patient disability, premature mortality and time spent by families taking care of the patient. Therefore, there is need for concerted efforts to prevent and control diabetes as well as strengthening healthcare capabilities and monitor trends of the disease,” She said.
The International Diabetes Federation estimates that approximately 750,000 people are living with diabetes in Kenya while 73% of them are undiagnosed. While the 2016 World Health Organization (WHO) and Lreport indicated that one in every 17 Kenyans has diabetes and between 650,000 to 1.5 million Kenyans suffering from undiagnosed diabetes with 12,890 people in the country dying from diabetes.
Diabetes is a non-communicable disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired resulting into abnormal breakdown of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood or urine.
Diabetes occurs in two types. In type I, the body immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin and in type II where the body fails to produce enough insulin or the body’s cells do not react to insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas to regulate the amount of blood sugar.
The cause of type 1 diabetes is still largely unknown as majority of patients worldwide have type II, as a result of body weight and inactivity. Diabetes also complicates renal functions leading to dependency on dialysis and kidney transplants.
Its symptoms include frequent urination, intense hunger and thirst, unusual weight loss, weight gain, fatigue, numbness, tingling in hands and feet, cuts and bruises which take long to heal and male erectile dysfunction.
The disease is seen as one cause of disability that greatly affects the future development and the use of resources of African states. This is because a diabetes patient requires three times more health resources than a non-diabetic, according to the International Diabetes Federation.
The disease leads to complications in many parts of the body and increase the risk of dying prematurely. It is the primary cause of blindness in adults aged 20 to 74 years old. The effects of the disease can lead to high possibility of heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputations.