The Lagos Food Bank Initiative (LFBI) has said it is helping the vulnerable people in Lagos State manage Diabetes and urged the state and Federal Government to do the same.

Diabetes is one of the global health conditions affecting both the rich and the poor across the globe. It is a chronic ailment that affects the body’s ability to process glucose and regulate blood sugar. If left untreated, Diabetes can cause serious health conditions that can affect various parts of the body, including the eyes, kidneys, and nerves.

In a report, The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Diabetes Atlas Tenth edition 2021, approximately 537 million adults between the age of 20-79 years are living with diabetes.

It says that the total number of people living with diabetes is projected to rise to 643 million by 2030 and 783 million by 2045.

Michael Sunbola,  the CEO of the Lagos Food Bank Initiative(LFBI), the first indigenous food bank in Nigeria, has said that Diabetes is a non-communicable disease affecting about 12% of adult Nigerians. He said it is more common among low-income adults due to food insecurity.

According to him,  the Lagos Food Bank Initiative has implemented a 2-years renewable Nutrition Intervention for Diabetes Self-Management (NIDS) program to help improve the glycemic control and quality of life of people living with both Types 1 and 2 Diabetes and Gestational Diabetes in Lagos State.

Sunbola said since the inception of the programme, LFBI has registered 820 people living with Diabetes. Also, the program has served a total number of 650 beneficiaries who have undergone counselling by in-house dietitians, and blood sugar tests during their sessions and received nutritious food items from the organization.

He said, “Diabetes is one of the most widespread NCDs in Nigeria, affecting about 12% of the elderly population. The odds of having diabetes are twice as high among low-income adults who are food-insecure compared to low-income adults who are not food-insecure.

“Research has shown that diabetes is a condition that cannot be treated but managed and efficiently managing diabetes involves an adequate meal plan, and regular blood glucose checks, things which a food insecure individual might not have access to.

“The Lagos Food Bank Initiative, therefore, took the initiative to implement the NIDS (Nutrition Intervention for Diabetes Self-Management) program to help improve the glycemic control and quality of life of PLWD by providing them with free access to a registered dietitian, nutrition education and nutritious food items.”

He explained that aside placing the beneficiaries on a follow-up program where LFBI reaches out to inquire about the well-being of the patients, “we place some beneficiaries that are heavily food-insecure into our Temporary Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) where they have access to pick up food at our warehouse twice a month or less”.

He added that LFBI has also empowered beneficiaries with jobs that generate income through its Family Farming program –an urban backyard farming where the patients can make extra income as well as get access to fresh farm produce to support their families.

Sunbola added that due to the organisation’s financial constraints, it will focus for now on PLWD in Lagos State until it can expand to other states with the right funding and partnerships.

He urged the government to support and improve the lives of PLWD by providing free or discounted insulin, glucose monitoring machines, test strips and improved health facilities and empowering non-profit organisations that are at the forefront of providing care to PLWD  and set policies that minimize food loss but boost donations in the country.

Report by Sylvia Okedi –