As the world just commemorated World Diabetic Day on November 14th, reports show that over 400 million people globally are living with diabetes, and of these, at least one in two are adults whom have not been diagnosed. In the past few years the World Health Organization (WHO), along with several governments around the world, has prioritized the management and prevention of diabetes.
This is a key agenda in this year’s commemoration of World Diabetic Day through its theme ‘Eyes on Diabetes’.
Commonly known in Africa as “ The Sugar Disease”, diabetes is essentially the body’s failure to regulate blood glucose levels by inability to produce enough insulin or the ineffective use of the insulin it produces through the pancreas. The two conditions are referred to as ‘Type one’ and ‘Type two’ diabetes respectively.
According to the 2016 WHO report, the number of people living with the illness has doubles since 1980, from 4.7 percent to nearly 9 percent in recent times, with type two being the most prevalent. Cases reported in low to middle income countries, particularly in Africa, have also increased.
In the past, tackling diabetes was predominantly reactionary leading to the symptomatic treatment of ailments associated to it, before patients were diagnosed. The symptoms mainly present themselves as loss of vision, fatigue, and hunger, among others. In the long term, the undetected underlying cause can lead to more serious chronic ailments such as heart problems, kidney failure, stroke, fetal loss (in pregnant women), and in many cases - death - which usually happens suddenly.
In many cases research has shown that diabetes is mainly caused by genetics, and those that have a family history of the illness are more prone to it. Preventative habits as well as early detection, especially in the case of ‘Type two’ can delay or minimize the onset of the disease.
Experts suggest that much emphasis must be put on actions needed to fight the disease. These are education, awareness and access to better medical facilities and technology.
Governments across Africa have prioritized the management of NCDs, and are working closely with various stakeholders to curb the devastating effects they have on families, communities and economies at large. One of the frontiers being used to tackle this is the introduction of central networking systems and digitized access to patient medical records. Fast and easy access to medical reports can mean the difference between life and death.
On the technical side, a leading method being adopted is CumiiConnectedHealth – an Internet of things (IOT) technology. It is an efficient and flexible platform that can integrate with several online health management systems, connecting patients, doctors and interested stakeholders to a central point of communication.
CumiiConnectedHealth uses a portable machine that reads patient’s blood glucose levels and sends the results to central database where a medical practitioner can access the information and determine what medical action should be taken. Because the CumiiConnectedHealth platform uses convergent technology, it can integrate to other devices such as mobile phones, which enable the patient to register a next of keen, who can be contacted in case of an emergency.
The platform also has an inbuilt feature called “Dial a Doctor” that can connect the user to the nearest health facility, or ambulance service if the need arises.
The use of the Connected Health technology has had measurable impact and is spreading fast across the continent. In East Africa, countries such as Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania are running pilots for the Connected Health technology and are looking to launch before the end of the year.
So far, African countries that have adopted the technology successfully include Zimbabwe and the Kingdom of Lesotho. The two countries have noted a key interest that the public has taken in knowing how to best take care of their health by using the SMS service.
By subscribing to the service, users receive health and management tips via CumiiConnectedHealth SMS facility directly to their mobile phones. This empowers people with basic health education.
Remembering that knowledge is power can help save yours and your loved ones’ lives, and drive the WHO NCD Global Action Plan.
Diabetes affects nearly half of the adult population globally and if left unchecked, it can have serious health implications to expectant mothers. To prevent chances of getting the chronic disease, it is advised to do exercises regularly, avoid foods that are rich in saturated fats, eat fresh fruits and vegetables and going for regular health checks.