WHO urges regular screening for early detection of diabetes

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020 00:00 |
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

At least 60 per cent of Kenyans diagnosed with diabetes are not on medication, the World Health Organisation (WHO) analysis shows.

Consequently, this puts them at a greater risk of developing severe Covid-19 outcomes if infected

This situation is reflected among other African countries where little diabetes screening is regularly carried out.

WHO analysis establishes that 18.3 per cent of Covid-19 deaths in Africa are among people suffering from diabetes.

Global studies also show that diabetic persons have an increased risk of severe illness and death among patients infected with the virus.

Data from 14 African countries showed the risk of complications or death from Covid-19 among people with diabetes increases with age, with persons aged over 60 years and above facing greater risk.

Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation, but with early diagnosis and treatment, many of the harmful effects of the disease can be delayed or even avoided.

The disease occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces (type 2 diabetes).

The more common is type 2 diabetes.

Research has established that over the past three decades, the occurrence of type 2 diabetes has risen dramatically in all countries around the world.

African region has experienced a six-fold increase, from 4 million cases in 1980 to 25 million in 2014.

With around 60 per cent of people living with diabetes undiagnosed, the African region has the highest proportion of people unaware of their status.

“Far too many people are in the dark as to whether they have diabetes. People with this chronic condition suffer a double blow if they are also infected with Covid-19,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

According to Dr Moeti, Africa must turn this around by investing in early detection, prevention and treatment of diabetes.

More on News