88 percent of diabetic patients don’t know own status - report

UPDF soldiers and residents are tested for diabetes at the UPDF Land Forces Headquarters in Luweero District on November 16, 2022. PHOTO/ DAN WANDERA

What you need to know:

  • People have been encouraged to embrace physical exercises and proper eating habits.

While an estimated 3 percent of Ugandans live with diabetes, more than 88 percent of them are not sure about their diabetic status, the Uganda Health Sector Survey 2014 reveals.

The survey says the increased diabetic conditions among the young and elderly persons in Uganda is a result of low consumption of vegetables and fresh fruits.

Prof Silver Bahendana, a specialist in diabetes and endocrinology, says diabetes is not about the blood sugar levels as earlier perceived.

“The diabetes disease that is now linked to many bodily complications including blindness, kidney failure among many other life threatening complications, calls for a concerted effort among all stakeholders. At the earliest stage, it can be treated and the consequences delayed,” he told guests during the commemoration of the World Diabetes Day at the Uganda Peope’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Land Forces playgrounds in Bombo Town, Luweero District, on Wednesday.

Prof Bahendana said diabetes is a complicated disease that often presents with different ailments.
“It also worries many people when one comes out to deceive the public that he or she can cure diabetes. We have more than two types of diabetes. One wonders which type of diabetes is being treated. The local herbalists should stop this habit. Many people are dying early because of herbalists’ false claims to cure diabetes,” he said.

The Commissioner for the Non-Communicable Diseases at the Ministry of Health, Dr Charles Oyoo Akiya, tasked people to regulate junk foods such as, chips and deep fried meats .

“The quality of food consumed by many Ugandans has continued to deteriorate and many people do not want to embrace physical exercises that try to tame some of the excess body fats,” he said, adding: “The prevalence of processed foods is now a big problem. The non-communicable diseases are contributing to the long life suffering and the high cost of life care in Uganda” .

Dr Nicholas Kamara, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Forum on Non-Communicable Diseases and a member of the Parliament Health Committee, revealed that the Public Health Amendment Bill 2021, the Alcohol Control Policy, will help counter careless lifestyles that have cost lives.

“It is unfortunate that herbalists continue to play around with people’s lives claiming to cure diabetes. They are simply exploiting the gaps in the health sector and the fact that many Uganda suffer from the non-communicable diseases,” he said.

World Diabetes Day was in 2007 passed under the UN resolution (61) 225, designating November 14 as the day for its celebrations.

WHO says

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) data published in 2020, diabetes mellitus deaths in Uganda reached 4,794 or 2.31 percent of the total deaths a year.

WHO latest data indicate that Uganda’s death rate from diabetes currently stands at 10.31 percent per 100,000 of the population, putting Uganda in the 60th position globally  .

Currently, about 537 million people are living with diabetes worldwide. It is also estimated that by the year 2030 the population living with the diabetes will be at 634 million, according to WHO report.