Coast Diabuddies, a Mombasa-based diabetes support group is calling for diet and lifestyle changes to beat the disease.
The group has expressed concern over the rise in the number of new diabetes cases at the Coast terming it a ‘ticking time bomb’.
Diabetes is classified into Type 1, which is autoimmune and therefore unpreventable, and Type 2, which can often be prevented by pursuing a healthy lifestyle.
The group’s leader Linnet Mavu noted that diabetes diagnosis is not a death sentence and that it can be managed and reversed through lifestyle changes.
Mavu said her group offers hope to diabetics contending that the disease does not sound a death knell when properly managed.
She spoke at Mama Ngina Waterfront Park in Mombasa during an event to mark the World Diabetes Day on Sunday meant to raise awareness of the growing burden of this disease.
Access to Diabetes Care is the theme for this year’s World Diabetes Day and is used as strategies to prevent and treat it.
Mavu observed that the high cost of medications in general and for insulin in particular is of concern to most people with diabetes who are financially affected.
She says non-communicable diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer are on the increase among youth and adults.
“Poor eating habits and inactivity among the youth and adults is the main cause of obesity and the consequent upsurge of lifestyle diseases,” she said adding that diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high blood sugar caused by deficient insulin production in the body.
Mavu said the condition is usually associated with consumption of refined foods and sedentary lifestyles that lead to obesity.
She said that lack of awareness, negative attitudes and poor dietary practices leads to the upsurge of the disease in the region.
She called upon residents to be aware of their personal risk factors and to adopt lifestyles that reduce the risk of contracting the disease. “For most people coming to terms with the diagnosis is very difficult because diabetes is viewed as a killer disease,” she said.
She said while it is true that the disease is chronic, good management of the condition goes a long way to protect patients from dire complications.
She said if left unchecked without management and lifestyle changes diabetes can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, lower limb amputation, visual impairment and blindness.
Amina Adam, a member of the Coast Diabuddies called on county governments to invest in stocking essential products like insulin, blood glucometers and test strips available at health facilities.
“As a group we encourage persons living with diabetes to take heart and do their best to manage the situation,” she said.
She said the main purpose of the Diabuddies group was to create awareness about the importance of monitoring diabetes on a regular basis. She said diabetes is still a preventable disease with an active lifestyle and a balanced diet.
Loise Kihara who lives with the ailment urged people everywhere to keep an eye on their diet and make time for daily exercises.
“Living with diabetes requires patients to change their diet, take up physical exercise, and adhere to their medication regimen,” she said.
By Hussein Abdullahi