Following her inability to buy diabetes medication regularly, 19-year-old Portia Antwiaah’s leg developed ulcers, and it had to be amputated.
Her immediate decision then was to take her life.
The story of the Junior High School graduate in the Brong Ahafo Region reflects the challenges diabetic patients face in Ghana, and as the world marks World Diabetes Day, Joy News explores the life of one of these patients whose hopes have been shattered because access to insulin remains a challenge in parts of the country.
“I planned in my mind that if I get something which can kill me, whether medicine or whatever, I will use it to kill myself,” she recounts her story to Joy News’ Kwetey Nartey.
She said the suicidal thoughts set in a few minutes after her leg was amputated by doctors at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.
Portia says she was diagnosed with diabetes five years ago, but because her parents could not afford the medication, she relied on her National Health Insurance the critical drugs to get her healthy.
Her reliance on the Health Insurance meant that she will never get her full dose.
She then resorted to the use of herbal concoctions to treat her condition.
But the herbal medication failed her and the ulcers set in.
“They said it has touched my bones so they have to cut my leg,” she said.
Diabetes is a serious chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar, or glucose), or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces (WHO, 2016).
It is one of the four priority Non-Communicable Diseases affecting millions of lives yearly.
WHO (2016) report states, globally an estimated 422 million adults were living with diabetes in 2014, compared to 108 million in 1980.
The report also indicates a steady increase in diabetes around the world, the reason being the disease is not solely a preserve of the rich, as considered formally.
Changes in lifestyle behaviours and lifestyle choices have also significantly contributed to this increment.
The global prevalence (age-standardised) of diabetes has nearly doubled since 1980, rising from 4.7% to 8.5% in the adult population. Consequently to diabetes and its associated health risk factors (overweight, obesity and physical inactivity) has been on the rise, hence the need for increased awareness and prevention campaigns.
The risks factors associated with diabetes are also linked to other diseases.
Thus diabetes awareness and prevention campaign ultimately seeks to kill two birds with one stone .i.e. diabetes, and other diseases with similar risk factors such as overweight, obesity and physical inactivity.
November 11 is World Diabetes Day, and the theme is Women And Diabetes Our Right to a Healthy Future.
The International Diabetes Federation states diabetes as the 9th leading cause of death in women globally.
In Ghana statistics reveal, diabetes and other related risk factors is more predominant in women than men.
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