19m People Live With Diabetes In Africa, Data Shows

Data from the World Health Organisation WHO has shown that approximately 19 million people in Africa are living with diabetes and this number is expected to grow to 47 million by 2025.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti disclosed this on Sunday, November 14, 2021 in a message commemorating this year’s World Diabetes Day.

TheFact Nigeria gathered that the leading cause of diabetes in the country can be traced to unhealthy diet as many live below poverty line and can afford only starchy food.

The international community commemorates World Diabetes Day on November 14 every year, to raise awareness of the growing burden of the disease, and strategies to prevent and treat it.

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high.

Lamenting on the burden of the disease on Africa, Dr. Moeti stated that, even though insulin was discovered 100 years ago, Africa still recorded premature deaths of diabetic patients.

She said: “The theme this year, and until 2023, is ‘Access to diabetes care’ because too many people still do not have access to diagnostics, medicines and monitoring devices that can help with diabetes management.

“This year also marks the centenary of the discovery of insulin in 1921, a scientific achievement which changed the lives of people living with diabetes. But one hundred years on from this hugely important innovation, premature death among people with diabetes is still high in many African countries, because of late diagnosis and a lack of access to insulin.

“In the African Region, more than 19 million people are living with diabetes and this number is expected to grow to 47 million by 2025”, she said.

Dr. Moeti further disclosed that about two-thirds of people living with diabetes in African countries were unaware of their condition. The known risk factors for diabetes are family history, age, being overweight, having a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, or use of alcohol or tobacco.

She warned that if left unchecked, without management and lifestyle changes, diabetes could lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, lower limb amputation, visual impairment, blindness and nerve damage, including erectile dysfunction.

She added that people with diabetes were also at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.

The WHO Africa regional director said even when patients were diagnosed, insulin stockouts in public health facilities and the costs of insulin, result in individuals not getting the treatment they need.

She gave an example with Ghana, which she revealed that it would take the average worker more than five days of earnings to save up for a monthly supply of insulin.

Moeti added that the cost of insulin and monitoring products for diabetes and other noncommunicable diseases in most African countries were paid for out of pocket by individuals and their families.

She charged governments to invest in making essential products like insulin, blood glucometers and test strips available to all communities.

This, Moeti added, should be backed by training of health workers in noncommunicable disease prevention and management at the district and community level towards improving service availability.

In her parting words, she urged all people living with diabetes to protect themselves from severe COVID-19 illness and death, by getting vaccinated against COVID-19.



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