Experts in diabetes in Zimbabwe say the public should get tested as non-communicable diseases are increasingly becoming common with millions of people in the country affected.
This is being made as the world this month is commemorating world diabetes awareness.
Dr. John Mangwiro, president of the Zimbabwe Diabetic Association and specialist in the disease, said latest statistics from the Zimbabwe Diabetic Association estimate that 1.5 million Zimbabweans have diabetes, which is characterized by a dry mouth and extreme thirst, a constant need to urinate especially at night, and unexplained and unintentional weight loss.
Diabetes results from the body’s inability to produce and or use insulin, a hormone that regulates the body’s metabolism.
"We are urging those exhibiting these symptoms to contact their doctor immediately as many people are living with the disease unknowingly, early detection is recommended to avoid future complications," said Dr. Mangwiro.
He said there are two types of diabetes - Type 1 and Type 2 – with 95% of Zimbabweans having the latter while 5% Type 1.
“Type 1 is normally found in young people under the age of 30 years or those born with the disease and most patients with this type take insulin or different types of medications. Type 2 on the other hand can sometimes be treated with a change of diet,” said Dr. Mangwiro.
He said the incidents of those in the rural areas who suffer from the disease is much lower than in urban areas as the people in the rural areas follow a more traditional diet with unrefined foods and a lot of exercise when they do their field and domestic chores.
Those in the urban areas, he said, tend to eat more fast foods and drinks with a lot of sugar leading to a high incidence of the disease.
"People should stick to their traditional foods made of small grains and vegetables and fruits and refrain from eating refined and fast foods. It is advisable to also exercise adequately and to avoid eating large meals in the evening as the body will turn that meal into sugar leading to diabetes and other diseases," said Dr. Mangwiro.
He further said most people live with the disease unknowingly and it is advised that people get tested to ensure that they are put on treatment early and avoid future complications.