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Diabetes cases on the rise

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CASES of diabetes and hypertension are on the increase in the country owing to reluctance by Zimbabweans to go for regular check-ups.

Report by Garikai Tunhira

Speaking at the World Diabetes Day campaign launch in Mabvuku, Harare, on Wednesday, deputy director for Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Health ministry Isaac Phiri said some people “suffer from the disease (diabetes) unknowingly or in silence at home”. He said more often the trend would not be detected in their National Health Information System.

“In Zimbabwe, it is estimated that 10 in every 100 people have diabetes,” Phiri said.

“Currently, diabetes statistics represent over 100 000 visits or consultations at outpatients departments per year. New cases reported in 2011 alone were over 10 000.”

He added: “Today, cases of hypertension are on the increase and it is estimated that in every 100 people, 27 have raised blood pressure.”

Phiri added that the figures were from 2005 statistics and were possibly higher by now.

“The new cases of hypertension reported more than doubled from 8 000 in 2010 to over 20 000 new cases in 2011.”

Phiri said in Africa, hypertension cases were estimated at 14,7 million in 2011 and were  projected to double to 28 million by 2030.
He urged diabetes patients to control their blood sugar levels and take stringent measures in following a diabetes diet. Phiri said there was a strong association between diabetes and hypertension as most diabetics tended to end up with high blood pressure and vice versa.

Diabetes and hypertension cause severe complications, which include severe blindness from cataract or damage to small blood vessels in the eye (retinopathy), kidney failure or shutdown, strokes and diabetic foot. Diabetes is one of the four major non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that include cardio-vascular diseases (heart and blood circulatory problems),cancer and chronic respiratory diseases.

Of these, diabetes is contributing to the huge proportion of all NCDs morbidity and mortality in the world today.

In 2008, NCDs contributed 63% of all deaths in the world, while 80% of the diseases can be prevented by modifying how people live.

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