Friday February 21, 2020

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

0
//
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.

Also Read- Facebook Removes 3.2 Billion Fake Accounts

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)

Next Story

WHO Committee Warns About Ebola Outbreak in Congo

Ebola in Eastern DRC Remains Global Health Threat

0
DRCONGO-HEALTH-EBOLA
Medical workers lead a young girl with suspected Ebola into the unconfirmed Ebola patients ward run by The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA). VOA

A World Health Organization Emergency Committee warns the Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo remains a global health threat despite significant progress in containing the spread of this deadly virus.   WHO reports a total of 3,431 cases of Ebola, including 2,253 deaths in North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

The Emergency Committee declared the outbreak in DRC a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, or PHEIC, last July.  In reviewing the current situation, members of the Committee decided it was premature to declare the global threat over.

WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says he accepts the Committee’s advice.

“As long as there is a single case of Ebola in an area as insecure and unstable as eastern DRC, the potential remains for a much larger epidemic,” he said.

WHO VOA
Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a news conference after a meeting of the Emergency Committee on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Geneva, Switzerland. VOA

WHO has revised its risk assessment from very high to high at national and regional levels, and low at the global level.  Last week, it reports only three new cases of the disease in North Kivu’s Beni Health Zone.  Tedros calls these signs extremely positive.

“But even as we near the end of this outbreak, we must act now to prevent the next one…Only half of health facilities have access to water.  Strengthening a health system may not be as sexy as responding to an outbreak, but it is equally important,” he said.

Tedros is traveling to DRC’s capital Kinshasa on Thursday.  The WHO chief says he will meet President Felix Tshisekedi and other senior ministers to explore ways to strengthen DRC’s health system.

Chair of the Emergency Committee, Robert Steffen explains why the group decided to maintain the PHEIC despite cautious optimism that the Ebola epidemic was winding down.

Also Read- US Health Officials Prepare to Battle Flu Season as Coronavirus Fear Rises

“We do see a risk of some resurgence and also a risk of complacency if we would now suddenly abandon this PHEIC despite of the fact that we still occasionally still see new cases,” he said.

Another problem, Steffen says, is lack of money.  He says WHO needs $83 million to carry out its Ebola operation until June.  So far, less than half of the required amount has been received. (VOA)