The Africa Regional Director of World Health Organization, Dr Luis Gomes Sambo, have projected that Africa will witness a 98% increase in diabetes cases from 12.1 million in 2010 to 23.9 million by 2030, should the current trends continue.
Diabetes is a serious, chronic and costly disease that imposes life-long demands not only on people living with the disease, but also on their families
In a statement read on his behalf by WHO Gambia Health Promotion Officer, Momodou Gasama, on World Diabetes Day on Wednesday, Dr Sambo said surveys carried out recently in the WHO African Region indicate that up to 15% of adults aged 25 – 64 years have diabetes.
The overwhelming majority are unaware they have the disease. Consequently many cases are diagnosed late, usually after complications have become so evident, he said.
Furthermore, a significant number of diabetes patients in Africa lack access to proper treatment and diabetes medicines, especially insulin, resulting in an avoidable complications such as neurological, vascular or visual disorders, heart disease, stroke, lower limb amputation and kidney failure, as well as other chronic diseases.
Sambo noted that an estimated 230 million people worldwide are currently suffering from diabetes."The number is likely to more than double by 2030, if effective interventions are not undertaken."
According to WHO Africa Regional Director, reversing the current trend of diabetes in the region is feasible if ministries of health and communities work together to reduce diabetes risk factors such as overweight, obesity, physical inactivity, tobacco use and consumption of foods with high content of fats and energy, and to consume more fruits and vegetables.
According to WHO, "we need to accelerate efforts by creating local and regional awareness of diabetes and empowering individuals and communities to take steps to prevent the disease and its many life-threading and health-impairing complications."
Dr Sambo called on Member states of the WHO African Region to scale up the development and implementation of comprehensive and integrated diabetes prevention and control programmes, as WHO engages people in a worldwide campaign to protect the future from diabetes