By MN Reporter
The World Health Organization (WHO) finds that 18.3% of COVID-19 deaths in the African region are among people with diabetes.
This accounts to one in every five deaths, the organisation said after an analysis of 14 African countries.
The analysis pointed out that the risk of complications or death from COVID-19 among people with diabetes increases with age, with people aged 60 years and above facing greater risks.
Diabetes 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].
It causes 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 African Region has experienced a six-fold increase, from 4 million cases in 1980 to 25 million in 2014. With around 60% of people living with diabetes undiagnosed,” WHO said in a press statement.
It shows that in Kenya found 60 per cent of people diagnosed with the chronic condition were not on medication.
“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.
“We must turn this around by investing in early detection, prevention and treatment of diabetes,” he added.
The problem has been compounded as Covid 19 has disrupted health service deliver in the world.
“We must not lose sight of other health challenges as we combat COVID-19. The World Diabetes Day is a key moment to call attention to this chronic illness, which is increasingly threatening the lives of Africans,” Dr Moeti said.
World Diabetes Day is marked on 14 November every year.
The African region is also witnessing a rise in diabetes risk factors such as obesity. Increasingly sedentary lifestyle and consuming foods rich in sugar, fats and salt is heightening obesity.