As Nigeria joins other countries to commemorate the World Diabetes Day today, those living with the medical condition through the Diabetes Association of Nigeria have demanded the increase of sugary drink prices by at least 20 percent of their retail prices.
They lamented that the cost of insulin has more than doubled, and demanded that taxes on insulin be removed and revenue from sugary drinks taxes be used to subsidise insulin for diabetes patients.
These demands were made at a photo exhibition to showcase people living with diabetes in Nigeria, organised by the National Action on Sugar Reduction Coalition (NASR) in Abuja yesterday.
The association also called for more health promotion and awareness on the dangers of sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption and that marketing of sugary drinks should be restricted in order to create an environment that encourages healthy lifestyles.
The patients further demanded improved access to primary health care by placing diabetes desk officers at state health ministries and to institute free diabetes screening and testing services at public health facilities.
The pre-World Diabetes Day event was aimed at informing and educating stakeholders on Nigeria’s diabetes burden and the need for action to reduce the difficulties of living with diabetes in the country.
The photographic exhibition featured patients in different stages of diabetes, some with major complications like limb amputation and blindness.
Speaking at the event, the secretary of the Diabetes Association of Nigeria, Bernard Enyia, called on the government to increase taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages, to staff state health ministries with diabetes desk officers and remove tariffs on diabetes treatment goods.
The event also included a panel session moderated by Prof. Felicia Anumah, director of the Centre for Diabetes Studies at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, with panelists consisting mainly of patients living with diabetes.
Anumah stressed that given the Nigerian economy, prevention is the cheapest option for controlling the menace of Diabetes.
One of the panelists, Don Ejiro, said accessing drugs has now become “a terrible experience,” with some diabetes medicines now costing four times as much as they used to at the beginning of the year.
The president, Diabetes Association of Nigeria, Dr Mohammed Alkali emphasised that the issue of diabetes is one in which everyone should be involved.
Nigeria’s SSB tax is currently N10 per litre which is abysmally low and falls below the regional average. The WHO recommends that SSB taxes raise prices by at least 20 percent of the final retail price in order for it to have the most meaningful health impact.