Half of the people living with diabetes in Africa are unaware of the disease and are not receiving treatment, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
According to a report by The Nation, its Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, who disclosed that the African region has experienced a six-fold increase, from four million in 1980 to 25 million in 2014, added that about 90 per cent of diabetes is type 2, which if not properly managed, may cause blindness, kidney failure, lower limb amputations and other complications.
While calling for early diagnosis and treatment, Moeti lamented that the occurrence of type 2 diabetes has increased dramatically in all countries of all income levels since 1980. This, according to her, was due to aging populations and lifestyle changes, including unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity. “Overweight and obesity are the strongest risk factors for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other non-communicable diseases.
“Early diagnosis and treatment are important for preventing complications of diabetes. Since diabetes can potentially strike any family, awareness of the signs, symptoms and risk factors is important to help detect it early.
“Having diabetes can also drain family finances when people with diabetes have to pay out of their own pockets for treatment. Disability or premature death due to diabetes can push families into poverty. Diabetes is also a huge burden on the health care system and the national economy,” Dr. Moeti said, adding that world leaders, in a bid to curb the menace, agreed to take responsibility for their countries to help prevent and treat non-communicable diseases, including diabetes.
Moeti explained that the leaders reiterated their committed to implement public education and awareness campaigns to empower individuals and families with information and education to prevent diseases like type 2 diabetes, and ensure that people have access to early detection, diagnosis and treatment. ”Governments should accelerate access to such services for everyone, through people-centred primary health care and universal health coverage,” she said.
She reaffirmed WHO’s continued support to governments to improve the prevention and control of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases.
“I urge everyone to eat healthily, be physically active and avoid excessive weight gain. Families can help to drive down diabetes through promoting healthy living,” she said.
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