Dr. Alieu Gaye, the vice-chairman of the International Diabetes Federation, has granted an interview to Health Matters. The following is a full transcript of that interview.
HM - Can you tell me your educational background and working experience?
Dr Gaye - I am a physician by training. I did my under graduate training in Nigeria at AhmaduBelloUniversity. I did my post-graduate training in Edinburgh. I have worked as a registrar at the EasternGeneralHospital, Bangor General and Haddington Hospital of East Lothian. I have served as the Head of Medicine in the RVTH and also served as Director of Medical Services. I have also served as the Vice-Chairman of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) for two consecutive terms. I am the current President of The Gambia Diabetes Federation, the current chair of the IDF Africa Region. I am a member of the Board of Management and a member of the Executive Board of Global - IDF.
HM - What is the situation with diabetes in The Gambia?
Dr Gaye - We estimate that the current national prevalence is 2.3% (source - IDF Atlas), a study in 1995 showed an urban prevalence of 8.9% and aerial prevalence of 1.2%. We had a total of 18,500 in the register 90% of which were type 2 diabetics and 10% which were type 1. A new study needs to be carried out.
HM - Can you tell us the differences between diabetes type 1 and 2?
Dr Gaye - Diabetes is a chronic condition, as a result of which the body fails to produce enough insulin, which results in the piling up of sugar in the blood (hyperglycemia). In type 1 diabetes, the body produces antibodies which then destroy the cells in the organ known as the pancreas. These cells are called the beta cells and they produce the hormone called insulin, which assists the body to take up the sugar in the blood for energy or store it as fat. In type 1 diabetes there is total absence or lack of insulin. This tends to occur mainly in children three to 15 years of age. They present more often in an unconscious state and these children will only survive by injecting insulin for the rest of their life. Type 2 diabetes is usually a life style disease. The people with the condition are usually older than 45. There are risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes, for instance obesity and being overweight, physical inactivity, the consumption of food high in fats and oils and a strong family history of the disease.
HM- What is your association doing in the area of sensitisation regarding this disease in the country?
Dr Gaye- the association was formed in 1991 and it has 400 registered members. The youth wing was formed in july2008. We provide information about the disease; create awareness by organizing world diabetes day celebrations have radio programmes as well as television productions. We have worked with DOSH and we would like to thank all our partners for their invaluable support. We will be giving talks to the National Assembly Members and we would like to thank all of them for making this year's celebrations a success. A very special thank you goes to the speaker for the support through the process. We intend to also give talks to the religious leaders and the security services.
HM-Are children and pregnant women affected by Diabetes?
Dr Gaye- Children mainly suffer from type 1 diabetes but with the number of overweight and obese children rising at an alarming rate we have started see type 2 diabetes in children \t "_blank" now. In fact in Japan there is now more type 2 in children that type 1 because of the rising incidence of obesity in school children. Pregnant women can have diabetes for the first time and at anytime during the pregnancy. This is called gestational diabetes and it occurs mainly because of the hormonal changes that have to occur to accommodate the baby. These hormones antagonize the action of the insulin in the mother and therefore cause diabetes. In almost all the cases the diabetes disappears after delivery. However recent evidence has shown that 50% of all cases go on to develop type 2 diabetes later on in life.
HM- Finally, what will be your advice to the general public regarding their diet?
Dr Gaye- Sensible eating is what I would advocate. Eat more fruits and vegetables, less fatty and oily food and exercise regularly. The WHO recommends a brisk walk for 30 minutes daily five days a week.
HM - Thanks for granting Health Matters this interview.