Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world Wednesday in marking World Diabetes Day with officials releasing estimates suggesting that 1 in 100 people in the country have the condition but may be unaware as many remain undiagnosed due to lack of knowledge about the disease.
The Zimbabwe Diabetic Association said 29 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa suffer from the disease, and the United Nations believes that over 350 million are living with the condition worldwide.
Zimbabwe is said to have reported 10,000 new cases of people living with the disease since 2011.
Speaking at a commemoration ceremony in Mabvuku, the national chairman of the Zimbabwe Diabetic Association, Ngoni Chagwana, encouraged those living with the disease to revert to traditional foods and exercise as a way of enhancing their quality of life.
"We are finding the disease more prevalent in the urban areas where people are eating refined foods as compared to rural areas where they eat traditional foods," said Chigwada.
He said his association is working with the health ministry which has appointed a programme manager to show its commitment in fighting the disease.
Nestle Zimbabwe has also partnered with the government and the association in intensifying diabetes awareness throughout the country.
Chigwana said lack of current statistics on the disease and its prevalence is hampering progress in coming up with a comprehensive national program to manage the disease.
Chigwana urged Zimbabweans living with the disease to change their lifestyles as a way of fending off the disease.
"It is important for people to exercise, eat non-refined foods, avoid excessive alcohol, smoking and other unhealthy living habits as a way of fighting diabetes," said Chigwana.
Most people living with diabetes lament the escalating costs of managing the disease saying this sometimes leads to others not seeking diagnosis to avoid these high costs.
Chigwana said the last survey conducted on diabetics in Zimbabwe was in 2005 and there is need to update studies and formulate programmes that will help in combating the disease which is curable
Interview with Ngoni Chigwada