Diabetes Awareness Month is hosted in November each year, with World Diabetes Day (WDD) being celebrated mid-month.
This year, the awareness campaigns come at an important time for developing countries around the world as many face rising diabetes mellitus statistics. In Africa, there are currently 19 million adults with diabetes.
Diabetes Challenges in Africa
In recent years, African countries have witnessed an increase in diabetes cases, particularly Type 2 (T2DM) as due to several factors. Some of these factors include lifestyle changes, urbanisation, the growing consumption of processed foods and the coupled factor of increasing obesity levels.
It is predicted that by 2045, if this issue is left without prevention methods and / or interventions, 47 million people in Africa will be dealing with diabetes. This surge is also expected to have a massive impact on morbidity, mortality and healthcare expenses within African countries.
South African Diabetes Statistics
The prevalence of diabetes is rapidly increasing in South Africa, surpassing 4.5 million people in 2019, as reported by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).
This is double the figure estimated in 2017, where 12.8% of adult population is living with diabetes, placing South Africa in the top 10 countries for absolute increase in diabetes prevalence.
Additionally, over two million of these 4.5 million individuals are undiagnosed, putting them at heightened risk.
IDF Diabetes Atlas highlights the importance of preventing the condition as well as tackling its complications in order to protect populations and society as a whole.
Many African countries are already instigating programmes aimed at improving the care of patients with T2DM, with improving diagnosis at the forefront.
Programmes to address key issues associated with T2DM include:
- Diet & lifestyle changes
- Monitoring of patient care
- Activities to enhance adherence to prescribed medicines
In addition, these programmes aim to address the potential complexities that diabetes patients face with infectious disease comorbidities.
With statistics expected to increase at an alarming rate, programmes and initiatives addressing condition prevention
and handling its complications become fundamental to the health and wellbeing of the African population.