Diabetes In Africa: An Urgent Public Health Challenge

Diabetes In Africa: An Urgent Public Health Challenge

4 weeks ago
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Diabetes is a health condition that develops when your blood sugar (glucose) is excessively high. It is a chronic condition caused by either insufficient insulin production by the pancreas or ineffective utilization of insulin by the body.

Diabetes is becoming more prevalent in Africa which presents a serious public health concern for the entire continent. According to recent updates from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the number of diabetic patients in Africa is expected to climb dramatically by 129% from 24 million in 2021 to 55 million by 2045. This health trend is exacerbated by poor disease awareness and restricted access to adequate healthcare.

A former IDF president and professor of medicine and endocrinology at the University of Yaoundé, Dr. John Mbanya said: “Diabetes is becoming an epidemic in Africa. Many people remain undiagnosed, and the disease is often detected only when complications arise. This late diagnosis is a major concern because it increases the risk of severe health issues such as cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, and blindness.”

Several variables, such as a lack of exercise, urbanization, and changes in diet, are associated with an increase in the cases of diabetes. Africans who migrate to urban areas tend to replace their traditional plant-based diets with processed meals that are heavy in fat and sugar.

The International Food Policy Research Institute’s Senior Research Coordinator, Dr. Namukolo Covic, highlighted the importance of food in preventing diabetes. She asserted that “nutrition education is crucial.” “We must promote the adoption of traditional diets that are high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in sugar and fat. To stop the diabetes pandemic, public health initiatives and legislation that support a balanced diet are crucial.”

Apart from lifestyle issues, genetic susceptibility also contributes to the rising diabetes prevalence in Africa. It is even more important to implement preventative measures because research indicates that individuals of African heritage are more susceptible to the disease.

READ ALSO: Diabetes Treatment Cost Rises By 200%, Patients Demand 20% Hike In Sugar Price

In Africa, controlling diabetes still presents a major challenge due to limited access to healthcare services. There is a deficit of qualified medical personnel in many nations to give appropriate diagnosis and treatment, as well as shortages of vital drugs like insulin. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 70% of diabetic individuals in some African nations lack access to essential drugs.

Strengthening healthcare systems is crucial, as stated by Dr. Nsenga Ngoy, WHO Regional Advisor for Noncommunicable Diseases: “We must prioritize the training of healthcare workers and ensure the availability of medications. Partnerships between governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector are vital to improving diabetes care and management.”

Africa is now engaged in several projects aimed at raising awareness, preventing diabetes, and providing treatment. For instance, the Diabetes Africa initiative seeks to enhance diabetes treatment throughout the continent by creating a network of medical specialists and providing resources.

Notwithstanding these initiatives, the diabetes epidemic in Africa still needs a great deal of work. In order to reduce the spread of this growing medical condition, more money must be invested in research, education, and healthcare infrastructure. To sum up, Dr. Mbanya says “The fight against diabetes in Africa requires a coordinated and sustained effort. By working together, we can make a significant impact and improve the lives of millions of people.”

 


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