Malawians urged to cut back on alcohol to fight diabetes

Programme manager for non-communicable diseases in the Ministry of Health (MoH), Dr. Beatrice Mwagomba, has appealed to  Malawians join hands with government and non-governmental organisations in the fight against diabetes.

Speaking o on Saturday 28 July 2012 at Kalambo FP School, area 25, in Lilongwe during a community mobilization campaign on prevention of diabetes, Mwangomba said the ministry is working with Diabetes Association of Malawi and Journal Aids, a journalist organisation, in order to increase awareness and community participation in diabetes prevention.

“With the increase in prevalence of morbidity and mortality due to diabetes, the ministry of health is prioritizing diabetes, than all other non communicable diseases in its strategy for 2011-2016,” said Mwagomba.

Mwagomba: Cut alcohol consumption. Photo by Innocent Kuntchedwa

“One of the things which we want to do is the public heath approach to the control this disease diabetes. Despite not having enough specialists in this disease, we would like to identify and treat the patients as early as possible at primary health care level.”

Mwagomba  said Malawi didn’t have enough places for diabetes treatment.

“It’s true that most of the specialized treatment for diabetes is found in the district and central hospitals, but now we have come up with guidelines for non communicable diseases intervention for not only diabetes [so]that health workers in health centres should be able to screen patients and give the primary medication from the health care level,” she said.

Mwagomba urged Malawians to cut consumption of alcohol, saying lives could be saved annually by changing official advice on ‘safe’ levels of alcohol intake,  She said harmful use of alcohol is one of the factors which contribute to diabetes because when one has taken too much alcohol it can overload the liver and it fails to properly function and break the sugar in the body.

She said ‘safe’ drinking levels are “for a man for a standard bottle of 300 millilitres, it’s five bottles and for a woman it’s four in a sitting.”

Journal Aids executive director Christopher Bauti urged journalists to develop a special interest in reporting diseases such as diabetes.

“It’s important that journalist should be aware of what diabetes is all about, so that they can take the messages to the public. If you can observe in the past, there has only been an extensive coverage in the media on… Aids, malaria and other dieses but not diabetes, so we want the journalists to start covering this disease,” he said

In Malawi, six in every 100 people suffer from diabetes; half of these also have hypertension, according to health statistics.

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