Diabetes – number one underlying natural cause of death in the Western Cape

According to Statistics South Africa’s mortality and causes of death in South Africa, report 2014, diabetes was the number one underlying natural cause of death in the Western Cape with 3 006 deaths recorded. It also ranked as the highest underlying natural cause of death amongst females and fourth highest amongst males.

pgwcInternational Diabetes Day is acknowledged on 14 November annually and offers health institutions across the world an opportunity to shed some light on this ‘silent killer’ – a condition in when the body does not properly process food by either not  producing enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugars to build up in your blood. Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations.

It is estimated that another five million South Africans have pre-diabetes, a condition where insulin resistance causes blood glucose levels to be higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be type-2-diabetes.
The Western Cape Minister of Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, says “many deaths and complications can be avoided if people went for screening and if people sought health care earlier. The Department has free testing available at all clinics when clients go for routine visits. So we encourage the public to get tested for diabetes. That is why it is important to prioritise healthy lifestyles.”

The risk  profile  of  ordinary  South  Africans  indicates  that  between 11-13% of the population may be diabetic or have impaired glucose tolerance and in the Western Cape,  non-communicable diseases (NCDs) account for 60% of deaths from 2009 – 2013.

The WCG, through its Western Cape on Wellness (WoW) initiative, is trying to reach as many communities as possible in order to adopt a healthy lifestyle so to avoid disease of lifestyle. Physical activity and healthy eating are considered essential to combatting a number of adverse health outcomes including diabetes. WoW!  represents a novel transversal and cross-sectoral partnering  approach to activate increased physical activity, healthy eating and healthy weight management  to prevent,  reduce  and better  self-manage the burden of  nCDs at and across School,  Community  and Worksite settings. The  initiative promotes  and activates population level.

WoW!  was designed,  tested  and  evaluated with  approximately  900 participants through  transversal,  inter-governmental and cross-sectoral partnerships during 2015. The preliminary results demonstrate the positive impact and potential of the initiative, which saw a reduction in:

  • being overweight
  • having high blood pressure
  • Body  mass Index
  • waist circumference and
  • an increased overall better health-related quality of life

WoW is evolving and has been shown to be effective in changing health risk behaviour Through phase 2, WoW aims to sustain this healthy lifestyles initiative across the Western Cape.

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