By CHUSA SICHONE –
OVER three per cent of adult Zambians suffer from diabetes, Community Development, Mother and Child Health Minister Joseph Katema has said.
Speaking when he officiated at the commemoration of World Diabetes Day in Lusaka yesterday, Dr Katema said diabetes, commonly known as sugar disease, was a public concern.
He cited the 2012 statistics in Africa where more than 14 million adults were estimated to have had the disease.
Dr Katema, in a speech read for him by the ministry’s non-communicable diseases (NCDs) specialist Mutale Nsakashalo-Senkwe, said Zambia was not spared from the high statistics.
“Ladies and gentlemen, today, more than 3.3 per cent of Zambian adults have diabetes.
“Yearly, we are seeing an increase of over 50 per cent in the number of new cases. These figures scare me, we need to protect our future,” Dr Katema said.
He said it was important to raise awareness on diabetes among Zambians as everyone had a role to play in helping to turn the tide of the disease to protect the future.
He implored politicians, traditional and religious leaders, among other stakeholders, to take keen interest in raising awareness on NCDs such as diabetes.
“I would also like to urge politicians, traditional and religious leaders to promote healthy behaviours that are critical to preventing NCDs. Encourage people to be checked and screened for diabetes,” he said.
Dr Katema said diabetes, especially type two, could be prevented by changing one’s food to a low-fat, high-fibre diet and being physically active through exercises and desisting from alcohol consumption.
He said diabetes complications could be minimised with early detection, but that it was unfortunate that the disease often went undetected in Zambia as one in two people were unaware of their condition.
Dr Katema said it was, therefore, necessary to go for early and regular screening for chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol.
On this year’s theme, which was ‘Diabetes: Protect our future’, he said health education and sensitisation of young people on the risk factors of diabetes were critical to enable lifestyle changes at an early stage.
Diabetes Association of Zambia president Susan Zimba-Tembo this year’s theme drew attention to the urgent need for accelerated actions to ensure that the future generation’s health was protected.
Dr Tembo said the association, in a bid to promote healthy lifestyles and early detection of diabetes, had this year screened more than 5,000 people at its screening clinics located at shopping malls, churches and public events for diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.