Life-style diseases: Africa needs new technologies

Life-style diseases: Africa needs new technologies

The African continent is characterised by a population in the process of transition.

As more and more people experience a change in lifestyle, embracing the Western way of life as opposed to more traditional customs, so too are they more exposed to a number of chronic conditions and illnesses that were less of a threat in decades gone by.

Research conducted over the past 20 years has not delved into the extent to which diabetes affects women between the ages of 16 and 49. However, according to a recent overview jointly conducted by the University of Cape Town, Non-Communicable Diseases Research Unit and Witwatersrand University, seven percent of African women aged 15 to 54 years are currently suffering from diabetes.

Diabetes is not only impacting adult women. As children and adolescents become overweight earlier in life, they are at an increased risk of developing several chronic illnesses including diabetes.

Even pregnant women are at risk of developing gestational diabetes (GDM) which poses a significant risk to both mother and foetus as well as increased neonatal risks, reports Dr Sumaiya Adam, Consultant in Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the University of Pretoria and a speaker at the Medical Obstetrics Conference on Diabetes in Pregnancy.

But what is particularly concerning, reveals Kengne, is that over two-thirds of diabetes cases in Africa remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated. In cases where treatment is received, the disease has often progressed too far down the line and the quality of care is not optimal.

Adam agrees that under and undiagnosed diabetes incidents in pregnant women is a problem leading to long-term negative health outcomes in children including childhood obesity, Type 2 DM and metabolic syndrome.

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That said, Kengne cautions against taking a negative attitude, saying there is no reason why this situation cannot be changed. He cites the recent introduction of a sugar tax in South Africa as a successful example of what can be done to reduce the incidence of obesity and chronic disease in Africa.

Professor Kengne will be speaking at the Public Health Conference, which will form part of the 8th annual Africa Health Exhibition & Congress 2018 taking place from 29-31 May 2018 at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The event is expected to attract more than 10,100 healthcare professionals and over 553 leading international and regional healthcare and pharmaceutical suppliers, manufacturers and service providers.