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Zimbabwe Health Officials Launch Diabetes Awareness Campaign

Developing countries face grossly inadequate health care staffing, shortages of medicines and funds, and sometimes a total lack of insurance schemes to protect patients from catastrophic health care costs

The Zimbabwe Diabetic Association has embarked on a nationwide educational drive aiming to build awareness among and empower those affected by the disease.

Diabetes is one of a number of non-communicable diseases including heart disease and high blood pressure that are affecting Zimbabweans in ever-higher numbers.

The World Health Organization recently reported that non-communicable diseases are becoming more prevalent in developing countries than in richer countries. WHO Director Margaret Chan says poor countries can ill afford to pay the costs of chronic care.

"They face grossly inadequate numbers of staff, shortages of medicines and funds, and a sometimes total lack of insurance schemes to protect patients from catastrophic health care costs," Dr. Chan said. "Weaknesses in public health services drive patients to the most costly, often unregulated private sector, even for routine care."

VOA Studio 7 reporter Mavis Gama reported that the growing problem of diabetes and pre-mature deaths led the Diabetes Association of Zimbabwe to launch a campaign.

Elsewhere, Zimbabweans turned out in large numbers to give blood during a campaign begun last month to restock the national transfusion bank. Backed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the campaign sought to overcome fears among many Zimbabweans, especially older ones, about giving blood, to lower the cost of transfusions.

National Blood Services spokesman Emmanuel Masvikeni said Zimbabweans should keep giving blood to make sure the country has an adequate supply.