In Nigeria, diabetes stakeholders resolve to work harder
A two-day meeting of diabetes and NCD stakeholders in Nigeria ends with a Call to Action and an official commitment to do more.
“If Nigeria is to meet its global commitments, there’s a lot of hard work to be done,” Dr Anders Dejgaard, Managing Director of the World Diabetes Foundation, said at the start of Diabetes and NCDs in Nigeria on 24 August.
His audience clearly agreed. Over the next two days, WDF partners energetically exchanged experiences gained from their work combatting diabetes across Nigeria, and urged government to increase support for diabetes and other NCD responses.
The WDF has supported 14 projects in Nigeria since 2008, investing a total of 3.5 million US dollars in improving diabetes prevention and care to date in Nigeria. Several speakers noted that the projects are a valuable contribution to a country where 2017 public expenditure on health care is 4.3% of GDP, well below the 15% recommended by the WHO. Yet for these projects to take root and grow, more government support is needed, they added.
“We need to harness all this together, so we can sustain it,” said Prof Felicia Anumah, head of the department of Medicine at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital and a member of Mark Anumah Medical Mission, a WDF partner.
“The Federal Ministry of Health has a key role to play so we can move this forward,” she added, addressing Ministry representatives attending the meeting. “Your work is very important.”
Resolve to commit
Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health was a co-organiser of the meeting, together with the WDF and Strategies for Improving Diabetes Care in Nigeria (SIDCAIN). Ministry representatives attended both days of the meeting, and brought several encouraging messages.
Dr Evelyn Ngige, Director of Public Health, noted that Nigerian public health faces many challenges. Diabetes and other NCDs are now the leading cause of death in Nigerians younger than 70 years old, she said, and are stressing a weak health system that must also address communicable diseases such as malaria and TB.
Yet she added that Nigeria’s Strategic Plan of Action on Prevention and Control of NCDs is under review, and that a WHO-recommended STEP-wise survey on NCDs is planned for 2017.
“We resolve to commit ourselves and our resources to support and help initiatives to stem the scourge of diabetes,” she said during comments to the press that were reflected in widespread news coverage.
Some important steps
At the end of the meeting, Prof. O B Familoni, a physician with the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu and SIDCAIN member read a Call to Action aloud to meeting delegates. The document, which captured the meeting’s themes and recommendations, was adopted with small changes by the delegates.
The meeting’s organisers then drove to the nearby Health Ministry to meet with Prof. Isaac Folorunso Adewole, Nigeria’s Minister of Health. The minister confirmed that combatting NCDs is a growing focus for his ministry.
”The ministry’s contributions to this meeting, start to finish, were truly encouraging,” said Prof C.O. Alebiosu of Postgraduate College, Osun State University and Project Coordinator for SIDCAIN. ”By sharing these perspectives and acting together, I believe we’ve taken some important steps toward a healthier future.”