WORLD DIABETES DAY LAUNCHED TODAY UNDER THE THEME: THE NURSE AND DIABETES

Mr. Kwabena Boadu Oku-Afari
(Chief Director MOH)

Story by JOSEPH A. COFFIE.


The world diabetes day was launched today 25th November, 2020 at the Ministry of Health Auditorium, this event brought together The Chief Director of the Ministry of Health, Directors, Unit Heads and Staff of the Ministry, Development Partners, Heads of agencies, the media among others.  

The keynote address was delivered by the chief director of the Ministry of Health Mr. Kwabena Boadu Oku-Afari, on behalf of the Minister of Health.

 He noted, “because there is a well-known and strong linkage between health, productivity, economic growth and national development. 

Ghana is joining the rest of the world to commemorate this year’s World Diabetes Day under the theme: “The Nurse and Diabetes” which aims to raise awareness around the crucial role that nurses play in supporting people living with diabetes, a theme which is most appropriate, especially in this era of increased challenges in healthcare delivery”.

He said, Diabetes, as we all understand is a life-threatening chronic condition that can result in complications such as cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, damage of limbs (amputations), stroke, impotence and eye disease that can lead to blindness. 

He clearly stated that, globally it is estimated that:

463 million adults (1-in-11) were living with diabetes in 2019, and this number is expected rise to 578 million by 2030

1 in 2 adults with diabetes still remain undiagnosed (232 million)

More than 3 in 4 people with diabetes live in low and middle-income countries.

Diabetes caused 4.2 million deaths in 2019.

Diabetes was responsible for at least $760 billion in health expenditure in 2019 – 10% of the global total spent on healthcare.

He said “In Ghana, three out of every nine people suffer from diabetes, out of the 4 million people living with diabetes in Ghana resulting in 34% of deaths annually, only 10 percent of cases are diagnosed early for proper medical care. The remaining 90 percent unfortunately are detected after the death of the victim”. 

The minister however stated that, it is known that persons diagnosed with diabetes must follow lifelong care plans to manage the disease, and nurses are at the forefront of educating and managing diabetic patients. While doctors may create a diabetic care plan, it usually falls on nurses to provide care and to educate patients about managing their conditions. Nurses must do all these while assisting to manage patients with other conditions, both acute and chronic. Caring for patients, including those with diabetes is not an easy task in this era of Covid-19, as there is absolutely no way to determine with naked eye who is infected. And with the rising Covid-19 infections, one can just imagine the anxiety being felt by nurses. It will not be fair to blame nurses if they feel a bit anxious about attending to patients with conditions that are considered non-emergencies, and this underscores the need for us to put in place measures to protect our nurses and indeed health professionals as a whole. The recent industrial action by nurses was perhaps one that was the most felt in recent times and I must commend the leadership for swiftly calling it off. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed that our health human resource at all levels and of all categories need to be protected. Our nurses and other health care workers are not more special than any other person walking the streets of the country, but just as in any battle, they have placed themselves at the frontline and risked life and limb to protect the health of the rest of the population. 

He said, there is the need to protect this category of human resource who in turn will offer their services (and sadly sometimes lives) to protect the health of the rest of the population, just like soldiers on the war front. If care is not taken, and the needed measures put in place to protect our nurses and other health professionals, any subsequent epidemic and/or pandemic would overwhelm not only our health system, but the economy and affect our way of life for years to come. 

“Whilst we learn from the (mostly bitter) experiences gained in fighting this pandemic, there is the need to teach and constantly review our curricular to reflect the dynamics in health. This includes emergency response drills, drills on the proper use of PPEs, Disease Surveillance and Notification simulations. Indeed, having it and not knowing how to use it is just as bad as not having it at all”. He noted. 

In addition to these measures, “there is the need to review and/or institute measures that will provide regular health screening for our nurses and other health professionals and I would like to entreat the relevant agencies, directorates, divisions and units to institute guidelines and protocols if this has not already been done.”

According the Minister, “we do also believe that clinicians need to shift focus to other areas of service conditions than always agitate over salary increments. Perhaps one of the most painful lessons this pandemic has thought us as health professionals, it is that you need to be alive to enjoy whatever salary increments and entitlement you fight for. And that means that health professionals must also fight for PPEs and safer working environments”.   

He concluded by saying, “the numbers of health workers affected and lost to Covid-19 is a wakeup call for occupational health and safety, and we believe that it is time to consider the following: Review of the occupational health policy, Engineer the occupational health unit of the Ghana Health Service, Set up occupational health and safety units in all Agencies of the Ministry of Health (MOH)”.

“I do believe that we will come out victorious if we learn, adapt, and heed the lessons of history and make concerted efforts individually and as a collective to institute measures to protect the health and safety of our nurses and other health workers, our health as a nation will benefit. Let us remember that if the soldier is weak, then we are all at risk”. He stated.

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