Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

Diabetes, a ticking time bomb in Africa

Usually, in the past there were certain diseases that were attributed only to people of the higher clash in society or better still rich folks. Illnesses like cancer, high blood pressure, hypertension, and diabetes were believed to get hold only of the well to do people of the society. But today, the reverse is true. These diseases are today affecting rather the lower class of people in society. A case in time is diabetes, which is thought to be one of the leading contributors of death in several countries across the globe, especially the developing ones.

Back in the 90s, diabetes was perceived as a medical condition that affected mainly rich people in high income countries. But today, the illness is said to be on the rise in sub-Saharan Africa and is considered a ticking time bomb, which, if not controlled might affect a good number of people in a few years to come. This region of Africa is reported to be struggling to make available regular data on occurrence rates among the general population. According to a multifaceted group of scientists and health experts in a new report, the disease burden of diabetes in Sub-Saharan Africa increased by close to 90 percent between 1990 and 2010. The report from the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology Commission studied health data of almost 10 years representing almost 40,000 people from a dozen countries, as well as quality data that assessed the effectiveness of more than 6,000 healthcare providers. The report picked out lifestyle and economic factors as the main contributors to the dominance of diabetes in this region. Aspects like the rise in incomes, urbanization, and changing eating and work habits in the sub-Saharan countries were said to encourage a rise in the disease.

Furthermore, only a few persons in the region suffering from the condition actually get diagnosed or even know they have the disease. Also, just half or even a fewer number of people faced with diabetes actually get treated for it. The total cost of diabetes in Sub-Saharan Africa could rise above 59 billion dollars by 2030, if it is not brought under control. Out of the $12.1billion spent on diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015, southern African countries accounted for two-thirds.

The fact that nowadays diabetes is very common in lower-income countries, like those in Sub-Saharan Africa, has been blamed on health systems focusing more on tackling infectious diseases for the last 15 to 20 years. The increase in diabetes cases has not been seen as a priority. This has thus led to several gaps in care, including a lack of equipment for diagnosing and monitoring diabetes, lack of treatment, and lack of knowledge about the disease among health care providers. Also, health care systems in Africa lagging behind in containing the occurrence of diabetes has been attributed to the fact that they are not exposed to the level of investment needed to provide good quality care for all.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a medical condition that occurs when one’s blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is the body’s main source of energy and comes from the food one consumes. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into the body’s cells to be used for energy.

Different Types of Diabetes

There may be five different types of diabetes, but just three are very common. They include the Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes.

  • Type 1 Diabetes: with this type of diabetes, the body does not produce insulin and the immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin.
  • Type 2 diabetes: for type 2 diabetes, the body does not make or use insulin well. It can be developed at age.
  • Gestational diabetes: Gestational diabetes grows in some women when they are pregnant. Most of the time, this type of diabetes disappears after the baby is born.

Diabetes comes with a lot of other health complications if it is not properly managed. Sometimes, even when it is properly managed, these complications still occur. They include: heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye problems, dental disease, and nerve damage and foot problems.

AFRIC Editorial Article.


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