Diabetes is on the rise in Zimbabwe, and health officials are pushing prevention as a way to offset the non-communicable disease, referred to as a silent killer.
Latest statistics from the Zimbabwe Diabetic Association estimate that 1.4 million Zimbabweans have diabetes, which is characterized by dry mouth and extreme thirst, a constant need to urinate especially at night, and unexplained and un-intentional weight loss.
Diabetes results from the body’s inability to produce and or use insulin, a hormone that regulates the body’s metabolishm.
There are two types of diabetes – Type I and Type 2.
President of the Diabetic Association and specialist diabetologist, Dr. John C. Mangwiro, says, “For the young ones, below 30, is called Type 1 Diabetes, and then there is the Type 2 where people present with obesity, they are much overweight than is expected.”
Dr. Mangwiro says getting the right medication to treat people with diabetes is challenging due to the high cost of insulin and other medications, and thus the urge to encourage people to avoid getting the disease, altogether, as in the case of Type 2 diabetes, which he says is the most common one in Zimbabwe, afflicting 95% of those with it.
“Diabetes can actually be reduced, specialy Type 2 which I said is almost 95%, by eating properly. Nutritionally, Zimbabweans are eating wrong, they are sticking to these so called western diets which make them very obese,” says Dr. Mangwiro.
While poor diet is a concern for many of the country’s city dwellers, health professionals are concerned about the state of diabetes among rural dwellers, most of whom unknowingly live with diabetes due to lack of access to health facilities.
Close to 17,000 Zimbabwean reportedly died as a result of diabetes, in 2014.