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Diabetic, hypertensive patients turn to God for healing amid rising cost of medicine

……Diabetic, hypertensive patients turn to God for healing amid rising cost of medicine

The patients spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Sunday.

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According to them, the increasing cost of medicines has left them in despair and fear of complications from the diseases, saying the alternative is to turn to God for healing.

A 62-year-old retiree, Agnes Adenike, said that she had uncontrolled blood sugar, blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels, which was managed by healthy eating, regular exercise, weight loss and diabetes medication.

“When I started treatment two years ago, I was placed on 1000mg Merck Glucophage, which cost N2000 per pack but now sells for N11,350; Nifedipine was N800 now goes for N3,500.

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“A pack of Lipitor Atorvastatin Calcium 20mg was N3000 now sells for N30,600, Bondomet was N70 per sachet now N400. I use a pack of each medicine per month.

“They said to eat healthily, but now a piece of egg goes for N150, a sizeable piece of apple costs N400; the cost of living is choking the life out of the living. We are standing by God’s grace.

“My pension is N27,000 per month, and there’s no way I could afford all these. I spoke with my physician about alternative brands of medicines to reduce costs.

“However, after one month of use, I was hospitalised because the alternative drugs weren’t controlling my condition. Upon discharge from the hospital, I’ve resorted to healing service at various churches, months after I’m doing well,” she said.

Similarly, Isaiah Hezekiah, a businessman, said that managing diabetes in the current economic situation was unaffordable for many patients.

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“We all meet at the diabetes clinics, and from discussions, I notice that many patients are developing complications from treatment disruption. The drugs are too expensive.

“Even the health insurance isn’t helping; many of them exist on paper only, most of their enrollees are denied access to care and you can’t get the quality drugs needed to survive diabetes.

“I alternate the use of my medications with herbs and Holy Communion. My physician disapproves of the practice, but that’s the best I can do for now considering the economic situation,” he said.

Similarly, due to the continuous increase in the prices of medication in the country, some other Nigerians told NAN that they resorted to taking traditional/local medicines including herbs and other alternative therapies to manage their illnesses.

According to them, they can no longer afford their routine drugs the orthodox way, hence embracing traditional medicines.

Jumoke Ajayi, 50, a diabetic and hypertensive patient, said she could no longer maintain her routine drugs, noting that the prices skyrocketed within a short period.

Ajayi said she takes herbal concoctions to sustain her health, hoping that the prices would drop.

“The increase in the prices of drugs started like a joke and today, I can no longer afford the drugs I use to maintain my health.

“The cost of Glucophage, Exforgent sold for N1,000 and 15,000 respectively. But they are currently sold at N3,000 and N35,000.

“I have gone back to my roots and started using herbs late last year, to ensure that my health doesn’t turn for the worst.

“I hope the government will do everything to normalise the situation of the country and make drugs more affordable for Nigerians.”

Gabriel Afolabi, a businessman, told NAN that he also could no longer single-handedly provide drugs for his aged mother.

“I have been the one buying drugs for my mother to manage her Blood Pressure (BP) and rheumatism, but now I can’t do it alone because of the increasing price of drugs.

“At times, she insists on taking herbs because of the cost of drugs.

“Government should find a way around this and subsidise the cost of medication for the aged in the country”.

For Adaeze Achibogu, 65, she told NAN she also had to switch to traditional medicine because of the increasingly high costs of medication.

She attributed the high cost of drugs to the removal of fuel subsidies and the forex rate.

Also, Michael Okafor said that when he could not buy his drugs again, he was introduced to local herbs for treatment.

He said that with N5,000 a month, he could conveniently get the required local herbs to treat and manage diabetes.

A visit by NAN to a section of the local herbs stall at Ikotun Market, Lagos, revealed that there were several local herbs for the treatment of diverse health conditions including diabetes and hypertension.

According to Mrs Abiola Ogunsola, a local herb seller (elewe omo), some various herbs and roots can be used in the treatment and management of diabetes, depending on the level/stage and type of diabetes.

Ogunsola said that such herbs and roots included but were not limited to ‘abere (Miracle seed/Hunteria umbellata seed), ewuro (Bitter Leaf/Vernonia amygdalina), ata ire (Alligator pepper/Guinea pepper/Aframomum melegueta), kafura (bark of camphor/menthol/Cinnamomum camphora L), among others.

She said that recently, there had been a boost in the market as the foreign exchange had affected the prices of orthodox drugs.

Commenting on the situation, Dr Oluwajimi Sodipo, Head, Family Medicine Department, at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), said that the exit of some pharmaceutical companies holds wider implications.

According to him, it affects public health initiatives that rely on the companies’ products.

Sodipo noted that their exit over worsening economic conditions and declining revenues had led to scarcity of medicines, increased cost of drugs, and disruptions in disease management, and treatment access, which potentially puts patients at risk.

He appealed to the Federal Government to ensure a fair pricing mechanism for life-saving medicine to ensure access to affordable and quality medicines, especially for vulnerable citizens.

Sodipo urged the government to support pharmaceutical companies with funding and favourable macroeconomic policies to enhance local medicine production.

Data from the World Health Organisation showed that 24 million adults are currently living with diabetes, with that number projected to increase to 55 million by 2045.

In 2021, diabetes mellitus took the lives of 416,000 people in Africa and is forecast to become one of the leading causes of death on the continent by 2030.

……Diabetic, hypertensive patients turn to God for healing amid rising cost of medicine

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