Sub-Saharan African countries are struggling to cope with the burden of diabetes, a recent report has warned, with the disease overwhelming healthcare systems.
The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology Commission on diabetes estimates that the annual cost of diabetes could reach up to $59.3 billion by 2030. However, the authors from King’s, University of Bristol and Harvard warn that countries may not even be aware of the full risk.
We desperately need researchers to focus efforts
Professor Justine Davies, King’s Centre for Global Health
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Co-lead author, Professor Justine Davies from King’s Centre for Global Health said: ‘So little is known about diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa, with many countries in the region unaware of the burden in their population.’
Gaps in Care
The authors of the Commission report conclude that gaps in care include a lack of equipment for diagnosing and monitoring diabetes, lack of treatments, and lack of knowledge about the disease among available healthcare providers.
These gaps contribute to the fact that half of patients go undiagnosed, while only one in 10 (11%) receive the drugs they need. Many patients face delayed diagnosis and treatment, meaning the disease progresses and causes further ill health and risk of complications, for example myocardial infarction, blindness, and stroke, which are difficult and expensive to treat.
Refocus of research efforts
‘Most of the guidelines for treating diabetes used in countries in sub-Saharan Africa are based on studies done in people in the USA or Europe, but people in Africa may respond very differently to people in Europe and the USA,’ Professor Davies said.
‘We desperately need researchers to focus efforts to address these unknowns if health systems in sub-Saharan Africa are to stand a chance of being able to manage diabetes effectively.’
To read the full report go to: thelancet.com/commissions/diabetesSSA