7 Facts About Diabetes in Sub-Saharan AfricaDiabetes is a condition that has plagued sub-Saharan Africa for decades and has been on the rise in recent years. However, with technology constantly changing and Africans learning more about diabetes risk factors, the region is sure to make progress in curbing the disease. Below are seven facts about diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa.

 7 Facts About Diabetes in Sub-Saharan Africa

  1. The Diabetes Declaration for Africa is one of the first calls to action that the region has been exposed to. It calls on the governments of African nations to make efforts to prevent diabetes as well as reduce morbidity from the disease.
  2. One of the main reasons sub-Saharan Africa has seen such a large increase in diabetes cases is due to the lack of consistent data on diabetes rates among the general population as well as sensitive populations. One report shows that diabetes rates in the region increased by almost 90 percent between 1990 and 2010. However, immunological factors, environmental factors as well as genetic factors have only been researched in recent years.
  3. Physical activity plays a large factor in why diabetes is so prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. While many other regions in Africa consist of rural communities, sub-Saharan Africa consists of many urban communities. Urban communities require less physical activity due to the increased use of public transportation. Rural communities require a lot more physical activity due to the number of tasks that involve walking outside or lifting and moving objects.
  4. There is a major lack of efficient healthcare workers in sub-Saharan Africa who are able to treat patients with diabetes. More than 50 percent of those living with diabetes in the region are undiagnosed. The region holds 13 percent of the world’s population and 24 percent of all global diseases, yet only 2 percent of the world’s doctors. Fortunately, however, countries in the region are making an effort to make more healthcare workers available to patients. In 2010, Tanzania enacted the Twiga Initiative, which would double the country’s trained healthcare workers from 3,850 per year to 7,500 per year.
  5. A lack of proper education in diabetes management and early warning signs is a large reason that diabetes instances have increased in sub-Saharan Africa. But, in order to improve education on the self-management of diabetes, the International Diabetes Federation Africa Region (AFR) has been working to provide training on the condition in the region. The AFR represents 34 diabetes organizations throughout Africa and provided training sessions in Kenya in 2019.
  6. Some countries in sub-Saharan Africa have easier access to blood glucose self-monitoring than others. While out of a sample size of 384, only 3 percent of Ethiopians were able to self-monitor their blood glucose at home. However, out of a sample size of 150, 43 percent of Nigerians were able to do so.
  7. In 2007, the U.N. General Assembly enacted World Diabetes. This was a milestone in acknowledging that diabetes is a global threat not just to sub-Saharan Africa but to partners and stakeholders that work to prevent diabetes and related diseases.

While diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa has been on the rise for decades, progress is being made in various countries throughout the region. With more improvements to technology, healthcare, education and self-management,sub-Saharan Africa could reduce the extreme rates of diabetes.

Alyson Kaufman
Photo: Pixabay

Vaccine-Preventable DiseaseEvery year, around 31 million children in sub-Saharan Africa contract diseases that are easily prevented with vaccines. In 2017, the Heads of State nationwide endorsed the Addis Declaration on Immunization. This pledge promises that everyone in Africa will receive vaccines regardless of their socio-economic status. If all children obtain disease preventable vaccines, parents and children can spend less time in hospitals and more time living healthy lives. These are five facts about vaccine-preventable disease in sub-Saharan Africa

5 Facts About Vaccine-Preventable Disease in Africa

  1. Polio Eradication: Sub-Saharan Africa is close to reaching polio-free status. Nigeria, the continent’s last infected country, has celebrated three years without any new polio cases. If the country remains polio-free after December 2019, sub-Saharan Africa could be officially declared polio-free. This milestone will be achieved thanks to President Mohammad Buhari. He ordered that $26.7 million be funded to the country’s Polio Eradication Programme back in 2016.
  2. The Cost of Disease: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccine-preventable diseases and deaths cost sub-Saharan Africa $13 billion annually. Outside efforts could redirect this funding toward other important endeavors in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, the region could strengthen health systems and the promotion of economic growth. Africa’s Program Manager for WHO’s regional office states that, because sub-Saharan Africa requires outside funding for immunization, “governments have a central role to play to fill upcoming funding gaps and ensure immunization programs are strong and vigilant.”
  3. Active Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: WHO estimates that sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 58 percent of deaths due to pertussis and 41 percent from tetanus. Furthermore, measles causes 59 percent of deaths while yellow fever is responsible for 80 percent of deaths. Yellow fever, considered to be an epidemic during outbreaks, claims thousands of lives. Tetanus and pertussis also continue to kill thousands in sub-Saharan Africa annually.
  4. Cause of the Spread Despite Efforts: Despite high vaccination rates, sub-Saharan Africa still struggles with vaccine-preventable diseases. This is due to low vaccine coverage in “477 geographical clusters” across sub-Saharan Africa. These clusters occur due to a lack of health education and limited to no access to public healthcare. Clusters make it difficult to achieve herd immunity. The monitoring of vulnerable areas must occur in order to strengthen disease elimination programs.
  5. Organizations that Help: WHO is an especially impactful organization. Namely, its efforts consist of monitoring and assessing the impact of strategies for reducing illness related to vaccine-preventable diseases. In 2017, Nigeria’s minister of health declared the meningitis outbreak over, a feat that was achieved with the support of WHO and its partners. WHO also supported sub-Saharan Africa in its feat of preventing up to 500,000 cases of meningitis. Reactive vaccination campaigns led to the vaccination of more than 2 million people in sub-Saharan Africa.

Vaccine-preventable diseases have not been completely eradicated in sub-Saharan Africa; however, major efforts are in progress. It is still important to mobilize efforts to ensure that governments are supporting vaccination programs that will see the end of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Lisa Di Nuzzo
Photo: Flickr