For residents in Delta rural communities who are battling with diabetes and hypertension, respite has finally come their way as Delta State Contributory Health Insurance Commission has established four free treatment centres in the three senatorial districts of the state.
The establishment followed a memorandum of understanding the health commission entered with SANOFI, a French multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in Paris, France. It has Folake Odediran as its General Manager in Nigeria.
The four treatment centres are established in Obior in Aniocha North local government area for Delta North, Owo-Olomu in Delta central and Oporoza in Delta South. According to Dr. Ben Nkechika, director general of the commission, registration, treatment and drugs are free for all patients who are battling with diabetes in the state.
All residents of the state need to do is to present themselves for general testing and those diagnosed with the health challenges will be enrolled immediately into the scheme and free treatment and drugs will commence immediately.
At the commissioning of the Obior clinic on Monday, November 16, 2020, where residents of the community with the traditional ruler, former deputy governor of Delta state, Benjamin Elue, Dr. Isaac Akpoveta, chairman of the commission, representatives of SANOFI, the French pharmaceutical firm and others, Dr. Nkechika said the four treatment centres were established to enhance quality health care for people in Delta but most especially for the rural poor.
He told the Obior community people who gathered in front of the health centre which was built 15 years ago but seemed abandoned and now revived for this special project that the health commission was established to provide health care for Deltans, “even if you don’t have money, you can access health care. If you are sick, you walk into our health centres and get treatment at no cost.”
According to Dr. Nkechika, “Our target is that everybody should access health 30 minutes away from where they live. We want to make quality health care anywhere in Nigeria available to our people in Delta rural communities. We noticed that there a lot of complications in diabetes and hypertension. We want to make sure everybody is screened for diabetes and hypertension in the state.”
He told the people that SANOFI is partnering with the commission to provide free drugs, adding that 400 doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health personnel will be trained to manage cases, hence he called on community people to avail themselves of this opportunity, get tested and treated.
Dr. Nkechika noted that it may not be easy to establish centres in all parts of the state, “so we decided to establish one in each of the three senatorial districts. One in Obior for Delta North, one Owo-Olomu in Ughelli South for Delta Central, another in Oporoza in Warri South West for Delta South. But for the fact that Delta South is large with its attendant coastal nature, we decided to set up another one in Polobubo in Warri North. So, they are four in the state.
“The whole idea is that all potential diabetes cases in Delta are picked up early and we are able to provide them the necessary treatment. It involves mass screening. If you are discovered to be diabetic, we register you into the health insurance scheme, we provide the drugs free of charge because we have been able to negotiate with SANOFI. It will give us all their medications at 50% discount. We will now give to all our enrollees free of charge. It is going to be a comprehensive diabetic and hypertension management.
“Part of our mandate is to reduce cost of healthcare and leverage on the private sector to support our health care delivery. It is mandated that we partner with pharmaceutical companies so that the cost of drugs is reduced. If SANOFI sells to retailers before it gets to us, there is always ad-on.costs before it gets to us.
“Getting the drugs directly becomes very cheap and affordable to the people. That is why we went into the partnership with SANOFI. It’s a long term partnership. All diabetic screening equipment were donated by SANOFI. This event was sponsored by SANOFI. The partnership ensures that the patient is the final beneficiary and not just patients but patients in the very rural communities. We want to ensure no one is left behind.”
Chairman of the commission, Dr. Isaac Akpoveta, said the health commission is very particular about the health of people in rural communities, adding that the commission is in need of more programmes for rural communities and even in hard to reach places.
He said diabetes and hypertension cases will be taken care of by the four centres in the state. He added that the commission is unique because universal health care could only be achieved if health care is close to the people.
“A good standard is having healthcare 5 kilometres away from you. So, you cannot expect a man in Obior to come to Asaba to treat illness like diabetes that requires almost a daily care. One of the mandates of the commission is to ensures that healthcare is brought right to the home of the people,” Dr. Akpoveta said.
General Manager of SONOFI, Folake Odediran, revealed that over N30million has been spent in the purchase of medical equipment for the treatment of patients at the four diabetes and hypertension clinics across the state.
She said about a year ago, the commission and SANOFI signed a memorandum of understanding to address the rising burden of diabetes and hypertension in the state due to the upsurge of the disease.
She hinted that SANOFI had trained no fewer than 400 medical personnel to screen and treat patients with high quality and affordable drugs.
She said: “The increasing burden of diabetes and hypertension is a major public health concern. This is because these diseases are not just health problems but also a development challenge as they impact quality of life, undercut productivity and force many people and families into poverty due to catastrophic expenditures on treatment.
“The partnership aims at bringing healthcare closer to the people to eliminate some of the barriers which prevent people from accessing healthcare.
“A number of factors in our healthcare system limit the ability of many people to easily access diabetes and hypertension care which are low level of public awareness of the disease, inability to access a healthy worker or facility, and inability to afford the cost of treatment”.
Research has shown that diabetes is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar. The hormone insulin moves sugar from the blood into cells to be stored or used for energy. With diabetes, the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t effectively use the insulin it produces.
In 2016, an estimated 1.6 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes. Another 2.2 million deaths were attributable to high blood glucose in 2012.
In 2019, there were estimated to be around .59 million deaths among those aged 60 years and younger due to diabetes in South East Asia. South America and Central America had the lowest number of diabetes-related deaths that year.
Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2017 based on the 83,564 death certificates in which diabetes was listed as the underlying cause of death. In 2017, diabetes was mentioned as a cause of death in a total of 270,702 certificates.
Diabetes is being under reported as a leading cause of death. Studies have found that only about 35% to 40% of people with diabetes who died had diabetes listed anywhere on the death certificate and about 10% to 15% had it listed as the underlying cause of death.
As already pointed out, the sixth edition of IDF diabetes Atlas, shows that Nigeria is the leading country in Africa in terms of the number of people with diabetes. 3.9 million had diabetes with 105,091 diabetes-related deaths in 2013 which is estimated to increase annually by 125,000 between 2010 and 2030.