The Diabetes Association of Nigeria (DAN) has petitioned the Coordinating Minister of Health, Prof Muhammad Pate, on the rising cost of diabetes care in the country.
The association said the price of insulin, a critical and lifesaving drug for diabetes patients, had risen by about 200 per cent from N4,000 to N12,000.
DAN warned of a potentially catastrophic existential threat to the lives of over six million Nigerians living with diabetes due to the increase in the price of diabetes medications and supplies.
DAN is a voluntary non-governmental organisation and represents Nigeria in the International Diabetes Federation, which is an affiliate of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Their letter, dated 25 January 2024, was titled “Alert of an impending catastrophe in diabetes care in Nigeria and an appeal for urgent action”.
The letter signed by DAN’s President, Dr Muhammed Alkali was received by the minister on 1 February 2024.
It partly read, “We wish to humbly bring to your notice, a potentially catastrophic existential threat to the lives of over six million Nigerians living with diabetes, occasioned by the astronomical increase in the price of diabetes medications and supplies in the past six months, beyond the reach of an average diabetic patient. The one of utmost concern is the lifesaving insulin injection which is required for routine diabetes care by most patients and the only diabetes medication that is used in emergency situations”.
The association said the price of a vial of insulin had tripled from about N4,000 to N12,000, noting it had gone out of reach of most diabetic patients.
The association noted most of the patients now resort to alternative medications or resort to cheaper insulin being imported parallel to the long-standing sources whose efficiencies and safety have not been verified, as a result of the increasing price.
“This has led to substantial non-compliance with a resultant increase in diabetes complications and death nationwide. The oral hypoglycemic and commodities for monitoring have equally witnessed a skyrocketing price.
“We, therefore, use this medium to bring this unfortunate development to your notice and appeal for urgent action to reduce the rising cost of insulin and other diabetes medications in Nigeria to make them more affordable and therefore stem this ugly tide of increasing diabetes-related morbidity and mortality.
“This may be achieved through government subsidy and tax waiver on the importation of insulin and possibly other diabetes medications. We also urge the honourable minister to give special consideration to people living with diabetes in the government’s intervention programmes and enrollment in the health insurance scheme”.
The persistent upward trend in inflation, foreign exchange and the exit of pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Nigeria, have been major drivers of the rising costs of various goods and services, including pharmaceutical products.
The skyrocketing prices of pharmaceutical products are affecting the affordability and availability of lifesaving medicines, posing challenges for healthcare in the country.