Diabetes is expected to become the seventh global leading cause of death by 2030. In 2012, diabetes was the direct cause of 1,5 million deaths worldwide and statistics indicate that the risk of dying among people with diabetes is at least double that of their peers without diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic disease, which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.

Symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst, constant hunger, marked weight loss, increased excretion of urine, altered vision and fatigue.

There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common and accounts for about 90 percent of all diabetes worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa, type 2 diabetes affects about 8 percent of people above the age of 25.

Reports of type 2 diabetes in children — previously rare — is a growing concern in the African Region. In some countries, children and adolescents account for almost half of all newly diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes. The age of onset of diabetes is a critical indicator of developing complications throughout life. Over time, diabetes can cause damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, amputation, kidney failure, and increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for between 50 percent and 80 percent of deaths in people with diabetes.

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