– Ms. Sharon Matthews, Liberia Diabetes Center
Diabetics should not have to die prematurely, because there are steps to take to manage the disease and enjoy a long, happy life, according to Ms. Sharon Matthews of the Liberia Diabetic Center (LDC).
In an interview recently in Monrovia, Ms. Matthews said because many diabetic Liberians are not aware of their condition, they become victims when their sugar levels are high and they are rushed to medical centers for help.
She said the center is in contact with a diabetic who was at the point of going blind but got relief when she was helped with preventable steps that brought her blood glucose level back to normal.
“The woman explained that she was going blind and was so confused. She said she experienced blurred vision, which is one of the symptoms of diabetes.
“Another symptom she complained about was being very thirsty; and frequent urination and tingling pain or numbness in the hands.
“That is why LDC has been calling on Liberians to get tested,” said Ms. Matthews, manager at the LDC in Monrovia.
Ms. Matthews said from studies and collaboration with medical centers in Monrovia, there is a troubling report that points to preventable deaths from diabetes.
“Since many people have not checked whether they are diabetic or not,” she said, “there are situations where an unknown sufferer may collapse at work and the person is rushed to a nearby clinic.”
She said without being aware of the history of the individual, what normally happens is that glucose is administered to the patient and in most cases the patient’s sugar level is high and therefore the administration of glucose with sugar concentration leads to instant death.
“Sadly many people in our community credit witchcraft for the cause of death in such a case and clinics and hospitals we are in contact with are reporting that many people have lost their lives because they are unaware of being diabetic.
“It makes sense for Liberians to be conscious of their medical history so that wrong doses or treatments are not administered at a critical time when an individual is not able to contribute to a decision that affects his or her health,” Sharon said.
She said there are different types of diabetes and, depending on an individual’s physical makeup, he or she may be at risk of one type or the other.
She explained that once an individual suffers from diabetes and is unaware of it, there is a high chance of suffering from related health problems. “Diabetes can lead to heart disease and stroke, kidney problems, foot problems, like ulcer and amputation, nerve damage and eye problems and blindness,” she added.
She said LDC wants Liberians to know that if anyone suffers from diabetes, he or she can manage it with small steps to make a big difference to live a longer, healthier life.
“We encourage Liberians to get tested and then once it is determined that one is a sufferer, we will provide you a method to ensure that you are on the right path to a healthier life,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Liberia Diabetic Center is developing a gymnasium in Monrovia to afford people with diabetes access to exercise, which is key to managing and preventing diabetes, said Mr. James Momo, executive director of LDC. “We have a holistic approach that deals with obesity, hypertension (commonly known as pressure), environmental factors, counseling and nutritional support,” he added.