Dr Marybeth Maritim Cherono an infectious diseases expert based in Nairobi said people who use steroids have a higher chance of developing diabetes and also worsening those that already have the disease.
Health experts have asked African countries to use steroids such
as dexamethasone with caution while treating people infected with COVID-19.
Dr Marybeth Maritim Cherono an infectious diseases expert based in
Nairobi said people who use steroids have a higher chance of developing
diabetes and also worsening those that already have the disease.
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The medicines, she said can also lead to insulin resistance
noting that recent statistics show South Africa and South Sudan has the highest
prevalence of diabetes and yet no specific studies have been done in those
countries to establish what’s happening to those that are treated with
medicines such as dexamethasone and recover.
Other countries including Uganda have adopted the use of steroids
Dr Bruce Kirenga one of the lung experts treating COVID-19 patients told URN in
an earlier interview that dexamethasone has been effective in treating critical
cases in the country.
Last week, the Ministry of Health announced that 80
percent of the more than 80 people in Uganda who have so far succumbed to
COVID-19 were also battling diabetes.
Cherono said during a virtual meeting attended by different scientists in
Africa involved in COVID-19 treatment that the trend in Uganda is not any
different with Kenya and many other African countries. She urged them to start
collecting data that can inform treatment options which put into account
prevailing conditions on the continent.
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She adds that even as some patients are recovering, they stand a risk of
worsening diabetic control in those patients, which could also worsen
Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) situation in Africa soon.
The World Health Organization has approved that dexamethasone is used to treat critical patients who require oxygen or mechanical
Peter Horby a Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Global
Health who attended the meeting and was involved in the study done in the UK
that first established that dexamethasone can save lives of critically ill
patients, said the average age of patients studied was 67 years old and the
benefit of treatment kept lessening with an increase in age.
Horby agreed that more data is needed to inform use in Africa.