Geneva Switzerland: Lenias Hwenda is a global health policy expert with a passion for improving access to quality affordable treatments.
Diabetes and its complications are rising to epidemic levels in African countries.
The WHO estimates that the Africa region had an estimated 11.7 million adults suffering from diabetes in 2011. This number is anticipated to more than double by 2030 if action is not taken. Poor diagnosis and and poor availability of affordable treatments are major concerns.
The WHO predicts that many people in African countries, die from lack of insulin, or develop complication, before they have had a chance to be diagnosed, let alone receive treatment. The WHO estimates that in 2012, diabetes was the direct cause of 1.5 million deaths worldwide. In the same year, UNAIDS estimates that 1.6 million people died of HIV/AIDS related causes worldwide.
Proven low cost interventions exist that are capable of reducing the impact of diabetes while simultaneously addressing risks of other diseases.
Challenges to effective management of diabetes in African countries include poor access to diagnosis, affordable quality medicines, technologies and equipment necessary for treatment and the poor availability of appropriately trained staff and weak health systems. In cases where people are diagnosed, few have sufficient access to insulin, syringes and monitoring equipment. Early mortality is common in children with type 1 diabetes, regardless of whether they have been appropriately diagnosed or not. Early mortality significantly contributes to the low prevalence of type 1 diabetes in African countries.