Catherine Murombedzi Health Correspondent
November is a month dedicated to raising awareness on diabetes mellitus. Diabetes is not a communicable disease. Health and Child Care Minister David Parirenyatwa said the country was experiencing an upsurge in diabetes cases.
He said about 1,5 million Zimbabweans are diabetic, with some of them unaware they have the condition. Dr Parirenyatwa said the number could have risen, as the last survey was carried out in 2005. Lack of funding has hampered recent surveys as donors are committed to communicable disease more than Non Communicable Diseases, (NCDs)
“In Zimbabwe, the last statistics we have are from 2005 and our prevalence rate was 10 percent of the population. I believe the figures have risen since then,” said Dr Parirenyatwa at last diabetic commemorations.
“Of those, half of the undiagnosed are not aware. Of these, 95 percent of the diabetes is Type 2, which is mainly caused by poor lifestyles namely consumption of too much starch, which is converted to fat, leading to obesity, hyperlipidaemia, hypertension and diabetes mellitus.
This is compounded by lack of physical activity, which is very rampant in urban areas these days,” he said.A diabetic patient on drugs needs about $40 per month, minus the cost of the tests for sugar levels in their body, according to Zimbabwe Diabetic Association (ZDA).
Zimbabwe Diabetic Association President, John Chamunorwa Mangwiro said diabetic patients face many challenges, which make it a double-edged sword for locals with diabetes. Mangwiro said awareness levels needed to double up as many people did not even know that they were diabetic.
“Once you are diabetic, you don’t just need to know. You need medication. Awareness levels are very low. We need to have a massive campaign and encourage people to get tested.”
Mangwiro called on the government to subsidise diabetes drugs or give them for free as is the case with anti HIV medication.
Foods to take
All fruits are recommended be they exotic or indigenous. All vegetables frozen, fresh or dried are recommended too.
Grains are also good for diabetic patients or those intending to avoid the disease. Nuts, legumes and natural oils eg peanut oils cashew oils seed oil are allowed. Spices are allowed so are soya products.
Foods to avoid
Animal products beef, lamb, eggs and cheese and carborhydrates are not recommended.
Globally, 199 million women are living with diabetes and this total is projected to increase to 313 million by 2040.
Gender roles and power dynamics influence vulnerability to diabetes.
Access to health services and health seeking behaviour for women amplifies the impact of diabetes on women.
Diabetes is the ninth leading cause of death in women globally, causing 2.1 million deaths each year.
The annual mortality rate per 100 000 people in Zimbabwe has increased by 60.1% since 1990, an average of 2.6% a year.
Stigmatisation and discrimination faced by people with diabetes are particularly pronounced for girls and women, who carry a double burden of discrimination because of their health status and the inequalities perpetrated in male dominated societies.
These inequalities can discourage girls and women from seeking diagnosis and treatment, preventing them from achieving positive health outcomes.
Types of diabetes
Type 1 diabetesis a serious, lifelong condition where your blood glucose level is too high because your body can’t make a hormone called insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition in which the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and/or gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas. This type is associated with modifiable lifestyle risk factors.
A healthy lifestyle limits the chances of diabetes.
Ms Rindai Mufaro who is a diabetic patient said she has managed to live a near normal life through observing a strict diet and taking medication religiously.
“I take whole grain foods, less sadza and lots of vegetables. I also take local fruits and I dry a lot of fruit when they are available,” said Ms Mufaro.
Ms Mufaro said she takes proteins in the form of beans and soya products and has avoided all meats. She takes fish in moderation.
“I also work in the garden so that keeps me fit,” she added.