Durban - Six diabetes-related amputations happen every day in KwaZulu-Natal as the disease spreads rampantly in the absence of proper counselling and education that could limit it.
This is the view of the NPO Diabetes SA, which is calling for a “nationwide campaign, like that of HIV/Aids”, to be undertaken by the government.
“It needs to be extended over the next five to 10 years,” said Diabetes SA manager Jenny Russell.
She said there were 1.3 million state patients in the province.
Provincial health department spokesperson Ncumisa Mafunda was unable to verify the statistics and did not include anything about the amputations in her written comment on the claims.
However, she said the increased prevalence of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, meant that limited financial resources had to be used to provide treatment and care.
“To this end, Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has repeatedly stated that the prevention of non-communicable diseases is crucial to counter this increased prevalence.
“Furthermore, KZN MEC for Health Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo... has, on numerous occasions, sought to create awareness about non-communicable diseases, the importance of following a healthy and balanced diet and regular physical exercise.”
The department provided free screening and testing for diabetes and other non-communicable diseases at its health facilities and during its community outreach programmes.
Sister Pilile Dlamini, chairperson of the Diabetics SA management board, said once diagnosed, people should be educated on how to live with the disease; they should eat healthily and exercise. “Yet they are so often just prescribed medication and let go. There’s also the (required) monitoring of blood glucose.”
Russell said Diabetes SA regularly provided education to patients to help them maintain stable glucose levels.
“This will prevent complications (which come) at huge cost physically, emotionally and financially.
“The fastest-growing group of diabetics is in the 35-50 age group, the breadwinners of the family.”
The alleged complacency, however, is not confined to KwaZulu-Natal or even South Africa.
“Despite the scale of the problem, there is a lack of urgency to reverse the trend,” the International Diabetics Federation said in a statement.
“In 2014, governments committed to achieving a 0% increase in diabetes and obesity by 2025.
“Several years further on, and only five countries have said they are on track to achieve this.”
Diabetes can cause strokes, heart attacks, erectile dysfunction, kidney troubles and even blindness.