Vice President Dr. Mohammed Gharib Bilal has urged multi-sectoral partnerships in the fight against diabetes, noting that it was a serious threat in poor countries like Tanzania.
Opening the First African Diabetes Congress here on Thursday, Dr. Bilal said the causes of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases are diverse and complex.
“These diseases are mostly driven by global patterns of urbanisation, globalisation and economic development, whose impact is felt by all society. For this reason, no single actor can solve the diabetes epidemic alone.
“All sectors must be engaged and mobilized if we are to achieve a significant impact and sustained shift in the way we live, work and truly create an equitable health-promoting environment for current and future generations,” Dr. Bilal told experts in diabetes.
He further called for greater investment and technical assistance for diabetes and NCDs at the global level. “As African governments, we’ll continue to reiterate to our partners in development that human, financial and technical assistance for control of diabetes and NCDs are a priority,” he declared.
On governments’ commitments to increase accessibility, affordability and availability for life-saving medicines, the VP said: “It is our moral duty to ensure no child with diabetes dies from lack of insulin, no older person suffers needlessly from disease complications because of lack of proper care and medication, and no poor or less fortunate family carries the heavy financial burden of the disease.”
He however stated that Tanzania has made significant strides over recent years in tackling growing NCDs including diabetes.
The number of diabetes sufferers in Africa remains uncertain, although an International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimate in 2000 put the figure at 7.5 million diabetic adults between 20 and 79 years of age. It is thought that this figure is now much larger.
World Health Organisation (WHO) and the IDF estimated that the diabetes population will double over the next 25 years in Africa.
This raises enormous healthcare questions, as all African countries are already struggling to cope with the diabetes burden. Awareness is regarded as being poor, and concentrations of the disease vary considerably between different ethnic groups.
Type 1 diabetes, although still rare in many areas, is becoming increasingly more prevalent. IGT (Impaired Glucose Tolerance) is also becoming problematic, and exceeds 30 per cent in many African countries.