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Monday, 14 November 2022 20:18

South Africans urged to lead a healthy lifestyle to prevent diabetes.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The Department of Health has urged South Africans to rally behind the awareness of diabetes and advised that early screening allows early detection and treatment, which can lead to healthy lives.

The message comes as South Africa joins the global community to commemorate the World Diabetes Day to increase awareness about common symptoms and health risk factors associated with diabetes and to how to prevent and manage it before developing complications. These include, stroke, nerve damage, blindness, kidney failure, heart attack and amputations.

The World Diabetes Day is observed globally every year on 14 November.

"The 2022 World Diabetes Day is commemorated under the theme, 'Access to diabetes education’ which calls for strengthened public education around the condition to empower the people with crucial health information such as the risk factors, signs and symptoms and treatment adherence in order to make well-informed choices."

According to the statement released on Monday, there are three common categories of diabetes including type 1,  which develops when the blood glucose (sugar) levels are too high due to the body producing very little or no insulin.

Meanwhile, type 2 diabetes is caused by several factors, including lifestyle factors such as obesity, lack of physical activity or having a family history of the condition. 

"It is the most prevalent form of the condition, responsible for around 90% of all diabetes."

Unlike the other types, gestational diabetes mellitus is a temporary condition that develops in women mostly during pregnancy due to high blood sugar levels, with potential to cause health problems in both mother and baby. 

"Maintenance of healthy lifestyles contributes towards prevention, control of the condition and the avoidance of serious complications which include depression and anxiety," the department explained.

Regular health screening, according to the statement, can lead to early diagnosis, holistic treatment and control.  

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 420 million people are living with diabetes worldwide and the number of people living with diabetes is increasing, even though some types of diabetes can be largely prevented with healthy diets and physical activity.

Some of the preventable contributing risk factors include tobacco users, physical inactivity, obesity, the harmful use of alcohol and eating unhealthy diets.

South Africa is amongst the countries, which proposed and committed to the reduction of the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) through strengthening prevention and control of diabetes during the 74th World Health Assembly held in May 2021. 

The department said it has been working closely with non-governmental organisations, development partner organisations academic and research institutions to develop the five-year Strategic Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs for the period 2022-2027, as part of the coordinated efforts to intensify the fight against the NCDs like diabetes.