As the International Community observes Diabetes Day, the World Health Organization, says more than nineteen million people are living with diabetes in Africa and the number may grow to forty-seven million by 2025.
World Diabetes Day is set aside to raise awareness on the growing burden of the disease, and strategies to prevent and treat it.
The theme for this year’s celebration, and until 2023, is “Access to diabetes care.
This year also marks the centenary of the discovery of insulin in 1921, a scientific achievement which changed the lives of people living with diabetes.
In a statement to mark the day, the Regional Director of World Health Organization, for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, lamented that about two-third of people living with diabetes in African countries are unaware of their condition saying that known risk factors for diabetes include family history, age, being overweight, having a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, or use of alcohol or tobacco.
According to her, people with diabetes are also at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms and if left unchecked, without management and lifestyle changes, diabetes can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, lower limb amputation, visual impairment, blindness and nerve damage, including erectile dysfunction.
She urged governments to invest in making essential products like insulin, blood glucometers among others available to all communities and support it with training of health workers in noncommunicable disease prevention and management at the district and community levels towards improving service availability.