Diabetes: Africas’ Growing Epidemic

Diabetes: Africas’ Growing Epidemic

November 14th 2016 marked the World Diabetes Day. Many organizations joined the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) to promote this year’s theme “Eye on Diabetes”. Efforts focused on importance of screening diabetes, to ensure early diagnosis and treatment reduces the risk of severe complications.

Research shows that, adopting a healthy lifestyle prevents/delays up to 70% of all Type 2 Diabetes cases globally. Poor diets, physical inactivity, smoking, family history and obesity are the most common risk factors pre-disposing one to Diabetes.


Image credit/http://dxline.info/diseases/type-2-diabetes-risk-factors

Technological advancements are not enough

Despite technological advancements, cases continue to rise. In 1980, 108 million cases were diagnosed compared to the current 2015 WHO estimate of 422 million cases globally. This figure is expected to rise to 642 million (1 in 10) adults by 2040. Currently, 193 million (1 in 2) people don’t know they have Diabetes

“1 in 2 Adults with Diabetes is undiagnosed”

In Africa, the number of people living with Diabetes is expected to double by 2040. WHO estimates 25m people (7.7%) are currently living with Diabetes. This has proved catastrophic to households since the cost of managing Diabetes is high.  Majority live on less than $1.25/day pushing household budgets further down the poverty line.

“25 million Diabetes cases are in Africa; number is expected to double by 2040, majority live on less than $1.25/day”

With medical care accounting to 20-25% of an individual’s health outcome, individuals are responsible for 75% of their personal health outcomes. Other factors contributing to personal health outcomes include income, nutritious food, safety, physical activity and education.

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To aid in personal management, mobile apps have been incorporated to help create self awareness. However, challenges like low promotion, low use, lack of enough public awareness on their existence and long testing processes lasting up to 5 ½  years of medical research are required for them to be considered acceptable by medical researchers. Hence most mobile developers tend to focus more on rapid delivery rather than proof of effect.

Eye on Diabetes

This year’s theme focuses on increasing awareness of Diabetes. Early diagnosis to screen for Type 2 Diabetes is vital for all individuals living in urban areas. With childhood diabetes on the rise due to poor diet, it is becoming a major cause for public health concern both in Africa as well. Screening and early onset of treatment reduces risk of serious complications that associated with the disease, lowers cost of management and treatment in the long run.

Consumer health education especially in nutritional labeling has showed positive health outcomes. Studies continue to show consistent links between use of nutrition labels and healthier diets. Reading nutritional labels enables consumers to make healthier food choices.


                                                                                                  Image credit/ http://www.nursingceu.com/courses/470/index_nceu.html

Does your lifestyle put you at risk of acquiring diabetes? Kindly click here to assess your type 2 diabetes risk http://www.idf.org/type-2-diabetes-risk-assessment


The goal of World Diabetes Day is to reach 1 million screenings this November, see www.worlddiabetesday.org

Mary Murugami

Healthcare consultant. She is passionate about Global health and efforts that embrace use of technological innovations to achieve Universal Health Coverage Goal