Diabetes is a silent killer that lurks in nearly every home across the Eastern Cape. Statistics show that this condition is becoming ever more prevalent and has become one of the leading causes of death in the province, even surpassing tuberculosis as the number on cause of death in some areas.
The Department of Health needs to be held to account.
I will be submitting questions to the legislature to establish how the prevalence of this condition, and the consequent incidences of blindness and amputations, are being addressed and what budget has been allocated per district in the province to combat diabetes.
More needs to be done to combat this condition, that is stealing the sight, limbs and ultimately the lives of members in our communities. It is also placing significant strain on health services, requiring continuous treatment, as well as impacting on the economy as a result of high levels of sick leave.
The reality is that the most prevalent form of diabetes, type 2, is largely preventable through regular exercise, a healthy and balanced eating plan and healthy living environments.
More effort is needed to communicate and educate individuals on the risks of the condition, how to identify early symptoms and, where necessary, how to treat it. A tatty Department of Health poster in a clinic is not going to do the job.
The Department should be rolling out an aggressive campaign to inform and educate all South Africans about this costly and cruel condition.
If the Health department were serious about combatting this condition, saving billions of tax payers’ money in the process, we would be bombarded with awareness programmes on all community radio stations, in all print media and on national television in an ongoing campaign.
Community Health Workers should be knocking on all doors to educate and inform residents of this condition, especially considering that in Africa, more than half of Diabetes patients are undiagnosed.
The Department can take a page out of the DA-led Western Cape government’s book, where campaigns are ongoing, and people are learning to adjust their lifestyles and take responsibility for their health.
As a result, the life expectancy of men is 5 years higher than the national average, and the life expectancy for women is 6 years higher than the national average. The citizens of the Western Cape are living longer because they have a government that has pulled out all the stops to curb the Diabetes epidemic. They have a government that cares.
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