Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that requires significant and continuous self-care.
Healthcare providers play a crucial role in empowering people with diabetes to manage their disease effectively.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that develops when the pancreas either produces too little insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar, or when the body struggles to make use of the insulin that is produced.
Diabetes was ranked the second-most deadly disease in the country by Statistics South Africa 2021. It has killed more people than HIV, hypertension and other forms of heart disease combined and is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, stroke, and lower limb amputation.
In South Africa, the prevalence of diabetes has been increasing rapidly, and nurses often serve as the first point of care for people with diabetes. Consequently, upskilling nurses with diabetes training is essential to improve diabetes care and outcomes in the country.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of diabetes on the African continent, affecting approximately 4.6 million people.
Unfortunately, the country's healthcare workforce is not adequately prepared to manage the growing burden of diabetes. According to a South African study published in the Journal of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Diabetes of South Africa, there is a significant shortage of healthcare providers trained in managing diabetes in the country.
This shortage is particularly problematic in rural areas where access to diabetes care is already limited.
There is strong evidence in the scientific community that upskilling nurses' diabetes knowledge improves diabetes treatment and outcomes. According to research in the Journal of Diabetes Nursing, nurses with diabetes training were more knowledgeable about the disease, more confident managing patients with diabetes, and more likely to employ evidence-based practices.
As part of Dis-Chem's commitment to providing more access to diabetes care, all 450 nurses within its clinic network have completed the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Certified Course for Diabetes Educators.
“Implementing this training module enables us to offer affordable and convenient integrated primary healthcare and offer greater levels of care to our diabetic patients. Effectively managing and treating diabetes in our clinics helps reduce the burden of diabetes in public health clinics and hospitals,” said Lizeth Kruger, Dis-Chem’s national clinic executive.
Moreover, it enhances the clinic sisters' primary healthcare skills, Kruger said.
According to the IDF, 11,3% of South Africa suffers from diabetes, equating to 4,2 million individuals. It is the leading cause of death among women and around 90 000 South Africans die annually from diabetes-related causes.
The IDF training improves health professionals' fundamental abilities and competencies to effectively communicate with individuals who have diabetes, encourage healthy lifestyles, and support successful self-management for the best possible diabetes control, said Kruger.
In a bid to address the growing concern of diabetes, the European Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education has accredited a comprehensive programme that covers several key modules.
The programme aims to equip healthcare professionals with the necessary knowledge and skills to better manage patients with diabetes.
These modules include an introduction to diabetes mellitus, prediabetes, and diagnosis of diabetes, the role of the diabetes educator, diabetes and lifestyle intervention, insulin therapy and administration, various health concerns relating to diabetes such as psychosocial, oral and sexual health, diabetes in children and the elderly, and self-management.
By completing this programme, healthcare professionals can enhance their ability to provide effective care for patients with diabetes and ultimately improve patient outcomes.
Upskilling nurses with diabetes training is critical to improving diabetes care and outcomes in South Africa.
This is because the investment in diabetes training for nurses will lead to better diabetes outcomes and improve the overall health and well-being of people living with diabetes in South Africa.
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