The Secretary General of the East African Community, Dr Richard Sezibera, said that unless all stakeholders harmonise efforts to fight diabetes, the killer disease will remain a major threat to the region.
He made the remarks while addressing the first East African Diabetes Summit in Kampala, Uganda, yesterday.
“We should approach the problem as a public health emergency in our various capacities as individuals, families, households, local communities, investors, entrepreneurs, pharmaceutical manufacturers, researchers, industry, parliaments, national governments, development partners, civil society and various non-state actors,” he said.
Sezibera noted that to date, no country has succeeded in turning around or reversing the diabetes epidemic among all the various age groups, yet the allocation of resources for health remains skewed in favour of infectious diseases.
“We need to look at prevention and care of diabetes and its debilitating complications. We need to look at the common risk factors for diabetes, critically examining the diets, alcohol abuse, physical inactivity and smoking. This can be done without reducing investment that is flowing into infectious diseases.”
The Secretary General disclosed that the EAC and the rest of the world were anxiously looking towards a successful UN Heads of State Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), including diabetes, which is due for September in New York, USA.
Sezibera hoped that the Summit would come up with a similar international financing model and global strategy to address the four most prominent NCDs namely; cancers, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.
“This would mean looking at systems of healthcare delivery and not silos at international, regional, national and sub-national levels through various policy and legislative reforms,” he said.
While opening the summit, Uganda’s Vice President Edward Ssekandi urged for harmonised policies, standards and treatment guidelines for the benefit of all East African people.
He advocated for the collaboration of the public and private sectors and government ministries in the process of developing conventional policies and strategies to combat diabetes in the region.