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World Diabetes Day: Undiagnosed diabetes remains a major threat in Africa

Today is the World Diabetes Day, and Africa joins the rest of the world in observing this important day, devoted to raising awareness about the disease. Diabetes is a chronic, progressive disease which is characterized by high levels of blood glucose. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 25 million (7.1 percent) people have diabetes in the African region. Undiagnosed diabetes remains a major threat in Africa. The time to act is now, and there is need to join hands and continue raising awareness of the disease.

Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (a hormone which regulates blood glucose), or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin that it produces, leading to various complications.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 422 million adults across the world aged above 18 years were living with diabetes in 2014. More and more Africans are at risk of diabetes and WHO estimates that more than 25 million (7.1 percent) people have diabetes in the African region. This number is incredibly worrying.

According to the International Diabetes  Federation Africa has the highest percentage (66.7 percent) of undiagnosed people, and the people who are at higher risk of developing life threatening and costly complications. Early diagnosis is the starting point to managing diabetes, and we encourage to get tested.

As we observe the importance of this day, encourage everyone to take good care of their health to prevent and manage the disease. We encourage everyone to try and live a healthy life, eating and drinking more healthily, and engage in physical activity (exercising).

Fruits: Photo: Lisa Pinehill/Flickr
Fruits: Photo: Lisa Pinehill/Flickr

The time to act is now, and there is need to continue raising awareness of the disease.

There is also need for governments across the continent to take diabetes seriously and increase diabetes-related expenditure to ensure the fight against the disease is successful.

According to WHO, Africa has been lagging behind in providing quality health care in the prevention and treatment of diabetes, particularly for people of modest means. Thus, governments across the continent need to formulate “effective policies to create supportive environments for healthy lifestyles”.

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