Health News of 2013-09-08

Africa has highest proportion of undiagnosed diabetes

Africa has the highest proportion of undiagnosed diabetes which is about 78 per cent, this is according to a study by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) published in the World Diabetes Atlas.

It said Sub-Saharan Africa has more than 15 million of the 371 million people living with diabetes in the world.

It said an estimated 344,000 deaths in the region could be attributed to diabetes, which represents 6.1 per cent of deaths from all causes.

The study which was made available to the Ghana News Agency on Friday revealed that investment, research, and health systems are slow to respond to this burden, and remain focused primarily on infectious diseases.

It said the region accounts for less than 1 per cent of global healthcare expenditures due to diabetes.

It said estimates for the Africa Region indicate that at least $2.8 billion was spent on healthcare due to diabetes in 2011; this expenditure due to diabetes is expected to rise by 61 per cent by 2030, whereas the prevalence of diabetes is projected to almost double in the same time period.

“Health in sub-Saharan Africa has been traditionally dominated by infectious disease, HIV/AIDS, and poverty.

“With rapid urbanization, non-communicable diseases like diabetes are quickly becoming a new priority for health in the region.

“Indeed, age-specific prevalence estimates of diabetes in African urban centres often meet or exceed those found in high-income countries,” the study said.

It said as urbanization increases and the population ages, diabetes would pose an even greater threat.

According to the study, in 2011, 14.7 million adults in the Africa Region were estimated to have diabetes, with a regional prevalence of 3.8 per cent.

It said the range of prevalence figures between countries reflects the rapid transition communities in the region were facing.

“The highest prevalence of diabetes in the Africa Region is in the island of Réunion (16.3 per cent), followed by Seychelles (12.4 per cent), Botswana (11.1 per cent) and Gabon (10.6 per cent).

“Some of Africa’s most populous countries also have the highest number of people with diabetes, with Nigeria having the largest number (3.0 million), followed by South Africa (1.9 million), Ethiopia (1.4 million), and Kenya (769,000).

“The top six countries with the highest number of people with diabetes make up just over half of the total number in the region.

“Children in the region with type 1diabetes often go undiagnosed, even if diagnosed, few have sufficient access to insulin, syringes and monitoring equipment, and die as a result,” it said.

The study said people with diabetes have an increased risk of developing a number of serious health problems; consistently, high blood glucose levels could lead to serious diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves.

It said all nations are suffering the impact of the diabetes epidemic, it particularly affects those who are socially and economically disadvantaged, and it also threatens achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

The IDF is an umbrella organization of over 200 national diabetes associations in more than 160 countries. It represents the interests of the growing number of people with diabetes and those at risk.