Tuesday December 10, 2019

Africa: Initiative Aims to Expand Diabetes Treatment

Diabetes, a disease that once mainly affected rich countries, is now most prevalent in low-and-middle-income countries

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Africa, Initiative, Diabetes
A blood sugare analyser and an insulin syringe are seen on a table, Nov. 13, 2019. (Photo: Diaa Bekheet) VOA

On the eve of World Diabetes Day, November 14, the World Health Organization is launching a new initiative it believes will allow greater access to life-saving insulin at lower prices for a greater number of people suffering from diabetes.Africa

More than 420 million people globally suffer from diabetes and are in need of insulin to stay alive.  Diabetes, a disease that once mainly affected rich countries, is now most prevalent in low-and-middle-income countries.

There is an ample supply of insulin on the world market.   But the medication is costly and unaffordable for most people in developing countries.  The World Health Organization says it believes its first-ever insulin prequalification program will make the life-saving treatment widely available to poor people at dramatically lower prices.

The prequalification program is a tool for assessing the quality, safety and efficacy of a medicine.  Emer Cooke, director of regulation of medicines and other health technologies at the WHO, says anyone who buys a WHO prequalified medication can be sure that the product is safe and effective.

Africa, Initiative, Diabetes
More than 420 million people globally suffer from diabetes and are in need of insulin to stay alive. Pixabay

“We hope that by increasing the number of quality suppliers of insulin there will be a broader price range to cater for less-resourced health systems,” said Cooke.  “We are also confident that competition will bring prices down.  That way countries will have a greater choice of products that are more affordable.”

Three manufacturers control most of the global market for insulin.  They set prices that are prohibitive for many people and countries.  In the United States, the average price for a month’s supply of insulin is around $450.

In the lead-up to this launch, the World Health Organization collected data from 24 countries in four regions of the world.  In some countries, the data show a month’s supply of insulin could cost between 15 and 22 percent of a worker’s take home pay.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death.  It can lead to costly and debilitating complications, such as heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and lower limb amputations.

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Overweight and obesity, as well as physical inactivity are major risk factors for type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes.  The disease is treatable with insulin and often preventable with a change of lifestyle that involves better diet and more exercise. (VOA)

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Intermittent Fasting Benefits Those at Risk for Diabetes: Study

Time-restricted eating benefits those at risk for diabetes

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Diabetes
People at risk of developing diabetes should practice intermittent fasting. Pixabay

Researchers have found that people who are at high risk of developing diabetes improved their health when they consumed all of their meals over a span of just 10 hours, or less over a period of 12 weeks.

The study published in the journal cell Metabolism, reported a form of intermittent fasting, called time-restricted eating, improved the health of study participants who had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, that increase the risk for adverse health issues, from heart disease and diabetes to stroke.

The researchers from University of California in US, found that when participants restricted their eating to 10 hours or less over a period of 12 weeks, they lost weight, reduced abdominal fat, lowered blood pressure and cholesterol and enjoyed more stable blood sugar and insulin levels.

Diabetes risks
Time-restricted eating can improve the health of those with diabetes. Pixabay

“Time-restricted eating is a simple dietary intervention to incorporate, and we found that participants were able to keep the eating schedule,” said study co-author Satchin Panda from the University of California in US.

“Eating and drinking everything (except water) during a 10-hour window allows your body to rest and restore for 14 hours at night. Your body can also anticipate when you will eat, so it can prepare the body to optimize metabolism,” Panda added.

Time-restricted eating (eating all calories within a consistent 10-hour window) allows individuals to eat in a manner that supports their circadian rhythms and their health.

Circadian rhythms are the 24-hour cycles of biological processes that affect nearly every cell in the body.

Erratic eating patterns can disrupt this system and induce symptoms of metabolic syndrome, including increased abdominal fat and abnormal cholesterol or triglycerides.

The study involved 19 participants diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, with 16 taking at least one medication, like a statin.

Diabetes risk factor
Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that includes diabetes. Pixabay

Participants used an app created by Panda called myCircadianClock to log when and what they ate during an initial two-week baseline period followed by three months of 10-hour time-restricted eating per day.

They were told they could decide what time to eat and how much to eat as long as all food consumption occurred within a 10-hour window.

At the end of the 12 weeks, participants averaged a three per cent reduction in weight and body mass index (BMI) and a four per cent reduction in abdominal/visceral fat.

Many also experienced reductions in cholesterol and blood pressure and improvements in fasting glucose. Seventy percent of participants reported an increase in sleep satisfaction or in the amount they slept.

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“Patients also reported that they generally had more energy, and some were able to have their medications lowered or stopped after completing the study,” said study researcher Pam Taub from University of California. (IANS)