Until recently, indigenes of Udo Community in Edo State had to travel to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Ugbowo, in the outskirts of Benin (about 40 minutes drive), or any other hospital for serious medical interventions. Although the UBTH Annex Health Centre is located within the community, it had no capacity to administer to the needs of diabetic and hypertensive patients until days ago, with support from Sanofi Pharmaceutical.
The health centre had been neglected and had not performed surgery for a long time until last month following concerted efforts by the current Chief Medical Director (CMD) of UBTH, Dr Darlington Obaseki. Being the first time ever that new diabetes and hypertension clinic was functioning at the UBTH Annex, as early as 8 am, hundreds of people from the community and nearby villages had poured into the facility, anxiously waiting to be screened for diabetes, hypertension, and to receive general medical attention.
People from at least 46 communities in the Ovia South-West Local Government of the state benefited from the screening conducted by UBTH, in partnership with Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, as part of activities to mark the World Diabetes Day (WDD). Records from research earlier conducted at the UBTH showed that diabetes and hypertension constituted the commonest disease condition suffered by people in the community. But due to lack of functional diabetes and hypertension centre, people from the community had to make the about 40-minute trip to UBTH, Benin city for emergency cases, or settle for herbal remedy.
Forty-year-old Ivie Eghosa, one of the female beneficiaries of the intervention programme came out being both sad and happy. Egohsa, who was diagnosed to be diabetic, recalled how she lost her baby during labour, last year, on her way to Benin City for surgical an intervention.
She said: “I could not deliver my baby through normal vaginal delivery, so the doctor referred me to the UBTH, Ugbowo, Benin City, for a C-section but I lost my baby on the way before I could get to the hospital.”
Aside diabetes and hypertension care, the hospital has begun carrying out surgical operations since last month. Confirming this to The Guardian on Sunday, the CMD, Dr Obaseki said: “Since last month, we started carrying out Cesarean Section (CS) here. Prior to this, when a woman is in labour and the labour gets protracted, we bundle the expectant mother into a car heading to Benin City, which is about 40 minutes drive away. But now, we don’t have to do that. Our facility at Ugbowo is over- subscribed because people gravitate to where there is excellent service,” he said.
Obaseki, who said the service at the UBTH Annex is subsidized explained: “People don’t pay the same amount that they pay in Benin here. So, there’s no need for people to keep visiting substandard health facilities.” Excited about the functional diabetes clinic in his domain, the Iyase of Udo Kingdom, HRH Patrick Igbinidu, expressed his appreciation to Sanofi and UBTH for the feat. With this intervention, he said his people would no longer travel the long distance to Benin for medical intervention, or visit native doctors.
“Before the arrival of this CMD, nobody cared about this hospital. People always go to private hospitals or visit native doctors when they need medical care,” said the monarch, who, alongside his council of chiefs benefitted from diabetes and hypertension screening. The General Manager, Sanofi Nigeria-Ghana, Mrs Folake Odediran, in her remarks said the growing burden of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes was a major public health concern.
With regards to the facility, She explained, Sanofi’s partnership with UBTH, which has been formalized by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), was a freewill service aimed at contributing to the wellbeing of the people.
“This is the second diabetic clinic that Sanofi is supporting in Nigeria, but not the last. Importantly, this is a freewill service that Sanofi has done, in partnership with UBTH,” she stated. An endocrinologist at the UBTH, Dr. (Mrs) Toyin Ohenhen, explained that diabetes affects everyone in any society, irrespective of age, sex, or race.
According to her, there are three main types of diabetes, Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes, which only occurs during pregnancy. Of these three types, she said Type 2 is the commonest and is due to insulin resistance when the body can’t use insulin efficiently. Symptoms of diabetes, according to Ohenhen include excessive thirst and hunger, frequent urination, drowsiness or fatigue, dry or itchy skin, blurry vision and wounds that don’t heal easily.
If not properly managed, she said diabetes could result in many complications, including heart attack or stroke, eye problems, kidney damage and limb amputations among several others. She advised the people to reduce the risk of diabetes by eating nutritious food, which should include plenty of vegetables and fruits, indulging in regular exercises, and generally embracing healthy lifestyles. She also said that people living with diabetes need the support of their families to cope with the financial and emotional pressure that accompanies a diabetic diagnosis.
Every year, diabetes reportedly kills about four million people worldwide and is associated with serious consequences such as stroke, blindness, limb amputation, kidney diseases and cardiovascular diseases. The theme for the diabetes awareness month and World Diabetes Day 2019, “Family and Diabetes” has been designed by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), organisers of the WDD to raise awareness on the impact that diabetes has on the family, to support the network of those affected, while also promoting the role of the family in the management, care, prevention and educating about the condition.
The IDF defines diabetes as a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that acts like a key to let glucose from the food we eat pass from the bloodstream into the cells in the body to produce energy. All carbohydrate foods are broken down into glucose in the blood.