Africa’s first state-of-the-art diabetes public health center opens


Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) today officially launched its state-of-the-art diabetes treatment center – the first such public health center in Africa. This follows World Diabetes Day yesterday, Sunday November 14.

Origin: supplied.

The number of people living with diabetes (PVD) continues to increase globally, exceeding all expectations.

According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF):

  • Over the next two decades, the number of people with disabilities in Africa is expected to increase by 143%, the largest increase among any continent.
  • In South Africa, we continue to see an increase in the number of people with disabilities, with current estimates suggesting that there are 4.6 million South Africans with diabetes.
  • About 52% of people with disabilities go undiagnosed. At least 50% of those diagnosed do not have access to adequate care.
  • About 70% of all people with diabetes remain poorly controlled.

“Overall, diabetes was the second leading cause of death in South Africa, just behind tuberculosis,” says Professor Joel Dave, head of the Department of Endocrinology at GSH.

“The vulnerability of people with disabilities to infectious diseases was highlighted during the recent Covid-19 pandemic, diabetes being a significant risk factor for hospitalization and death due to Covid-19. Data from the Western Cape shows that 43% of all people with Covid-19 requiring hospitalization were people with disabilities and 23% of all deaths from Covid-19 were people with disabilities, ”he adds.

This center will serve as a fulcrum on which to build an extended and expanded diabetes service offering the following services:

  • Diabetes clinics: Focusing specifically on complicated diabetes such as type 1 diabetes, diabetes in pregnancy, diabetes in special situations (organ transplant patients, cystic fibrosis, steroid-induced, atypical), the preoperative optimization of diabetes, a specialized diabetic foot clinic including a multidisciplinary team including a podiatrist, an endocrinologist, a vascular surgeon, a plastic surgeon.
  • Patient education: A dedicated patient education center will be part of the Center where patients will be encouraged to attend group sessions and one-on-one education sessions with diabetes educators.
  • Nursing training: A state-of-the-art conference room will be part of the Center and will be used to deliver basic and advanced diabetes education to all nurses in the public and private sectors.
  • Doctor training: The conference room will also be used to organize masterclasses on diabetes for doctors in the public and private sectors.
  • Training of endocrinologists / doctors: The Centre’s expertise and technology will be used to train the next generation of endocrinologists and physicians for South Africa and Africa.
  • Teaching medical students: The Center will provide an environment in which the next generation of medical students and general practitioners will be empowered to develop a knowledge base for the optimal management of people with disabilities.
  • Research: The Center will focus on generating local data that will enable optimal management of PLWDs in South Africa and will be used to inform local and national guidelines.
  • Scope: The Center will house the expertise and technology needed to organize outreach clinics and trainings at regional, national and international levels in Africa.

Provincial Minister of Health Dr Nomafrench Mbombo said: “Having worked as a nurse in the public health system, I have seen with my own eyes how people with disabilities struggle with their disease.

“It also puts enormous pressure on our healthcare system, but we need to do more to provide affordable, uninterrupted access to diabetes care for all.

We know that early diagnosis and access to appropriate care for all types of diabetes can prevent or delay complications in people living with the disease, ”said Mbombo.

At the launch, the Prime Minister of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, himself with type 2 diabetes, recognized the importance of the center.


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