By Phila Audrey Tuba

On Sunday, November 14, it was World Diabetes Day, and the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town launched its state-of-the-art Diabetes Centre. The centre aims to promote a culture of excellence in diabetes related healthcare in the Western Cape. It is stated that the Diabetes Centre will be the first public healthcare centre of its kind in Africa.

The Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, MEC of Health Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, the head of Health in the Western Cape, Dr Keith Cloete as well as management at Groote Schuur Hospital and the sponsors of the Diabetes Centre had attended the launch.

“The pandemic has undoubtedly had a significant impact on our province’s ability to render primary healthcare service to patients who suffer from illnesses including diabetes. We must begin to get our healthcare platform back on tracks as we recover and move forward”, said the Western Cape Premier Alan Winde.

According to the International Diabetes Federation over the next​ two decades, Africa will see a projected increase of 143% of people living with diabetes. It is stated that South Africa has about 4.6 million people living with diabetes.

The IDF further stated that 52% of people living with diabetes are undiagnosed and of those that are diagnosed, at least 50% do not have access to adequate care. It also added that close to 70% of all people living with diabetes remain poorly controlled.

The head of department of endocrinology at Groote Schuur Hospital, Professor Joel Dave diabetes is the second most common cause of death in South Africa, just behind the tuberculosis disease.

“ The vulnerability of people living with diabetes to infectious diseases has been highlighted during the covid19 pandemic with diabetes being a significant risk factor for hospitalisation and death from the corona virus. Data from Western Cape shows that 43% of all those with corona virus requiring admissions to hospitals were people living with diabetes and 23% of all deaths from covid-19 were people living with diabetes”, said Professor Joel Dave.

MEC DR Mbombo stated that the centre will be providing services such as a diabetes clinic which among other things will focus on type-1 diabetes, diabetes in pregnancy, diabetes in special situations such as patients with organs transplants, cystic fibrosis and atypical. The specialised Diabetes Foot Clinic encompassing a multi-disciplinary team including a podiatrist, endocrinologist, vascular surgeon, and plastic surgeon.

It will also focus on patient education, nurse, and doctors education for those within the public and private sectors, training of endocrinologists, teaching of medical students and research and outreach.

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