The Inaugural South African Diabetes Summit 2021

The Inaugural South African Diabetes Summit 2021
for type 2 diabetes

Would you like to be part of South Africa’s Inaugural Diabetes Summit? The Diabetes Alliance is looking for people living with diabetes to help co-create this event, as well as a Diabetes Strategy/Action Plan.

Building Back Better: Diabetes Response in SA post-COVID

In the immediate wake of COVID-19, it is time to take stock. As one of the top co-morbidities for severe COVID-19 infection and poor outcomes, diabetes has been brought into the spotlight. 

The South African Diabetes Summit will take stock of the current diabetes situation and produce a Diabetes Strategy/Action Plan that will allow the government and all interested parties to “build back better” in terms of the South African response to the diabetes epidemic. Media will be invited.

South African Diabetes Strategy/Action Plan

This Diabetes Strategy/Action Plan will be centered around 5 themes, aligned to the WHO Global Diabetes Compact:

  1. Awareness and prevention
    65% of South Africans aged 15 years or older have intermediate hyperglycaemia / fall in the prediabetic range (National Department of Health, Statistics South Africa, South African Medical Research Council, and ICF. 2019. South Africa Demographic and Health Survey 2016. Pretoria, South Africa, and Rockville, Maryland, USA). We have an opportunity to prevent this portion of our population from developing Type 2 diabetes, if we act now.
  2. Education
    Diabetes is primarily a self-managed chronic condition that should not be lethal. The right diabetes education can empower people with diabetes to live long, healthy lives. This includes the education of health care professionals. People living with diabetes need to be engaged in the development, review and updating of all promotional and educational resources.
  3. Management and access to care
    We know there is suboptimal control of people living with diabetes, with less than 20% meeting their treatment targets. We need to ensure that all healthcare disciplines work together on strengthening and ensuring continuity of care and integrated care pathways.
  4. Surveillance
    We need data on who has diabetes in South Africa: strong systems to monitor and measure our efforts and progress.
  5. Innovation and research
    Digital health, telemedicine and innovations could improve diabetes management in South Africa. This could expand cost-effective access to care from a shrinking pool of health professionals

The suggested Diabetes Strategy/Action Plan, including identified problems and plans, will then be shared with the media and parliament. After the Diabetes Summit, we will have an actionable plan to improve diabetes in South Africa to which we can hold the NDoH accountable. 

Join us as we co-create the Diabetes Summit 2021

“Nothing for us, without us” is a common theme when it comes to patient advocacy. In order to make this Diabetes Summit and Diabetes Strategy/Action Plan truly meaningful, we need to include people with diabetes in the creation.

Click here to volunteer

It will not be a big time commitment: the whole project will only take six weeks, and will be conducted in virtual meetings. The Diabetes Summit itself will be in early November.

Please join us!

Background to the Diabetes Summit

Inspired by the WHO Discussion paper: Draft recommendations to strengthen and monitor diabetes responses within national noncommunicable disease programmes, including potential targets (WHO), 2021)

  • Diabetes is the number one killer of women, and the second cause of death in South Africa.
  • The most recent 2019 International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates for South Africa report 4.6 (1.4-5.3) million adults (20-79 years) with diabetes; the national prevalence was 12.8% (3.8-14.7) with a comparative prevalence of 12.7% (3.6-14.6). Of the 4.6 million people with diabetes, 2.4 (0.7-2.7) million (52.2%) were undiagnosed.
  • Diabetes is expected to affect considerably more people in the coming years due to the increase in urbanisation, the growing obesity epidemic and concurrent physical inactivity.
  • South Africa does not have a cohesive national operational policy, strategy or action plan for diabetes.
  • Unlike other low-income countries, South African primary healthcare facilities have the basic technologies needed to diagnose and manage diabetes.
  • Insulin is available for free at primary healthcare facilities. However, supply challenges remain, and the availability of consumables such as blood glucose monitors and test strips constitute a barrier to insulin management in primary care. 
  • Only 19% of people diagnosed with diabetes and treated in a public healthcare facility achieve glycaemic control (SANHANES – [DRAFT] National Strategic Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases 2020-2025).
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the fragility of the overstretched and overburdened South African public health care system.
  • Data on diabetes derived from monitoring and surveillance systems in South Africa are sparse and often inadequate. There is no system in place to evaluate national actions or programmes.
  • In South Africa, there is no national strategy or action plan for NCD research.
  • The recent establishment of the Global Diabetes Compact offers an opportunity to the global diabetes community, including South Africa, to reflect on addressing the challenges related to the diabetes epidemic.
  • As a WHO Member State, South Africa is bound by the decisions taken at the 2021 World Health Assembly (WHA74) including this resolution:
    “to raise the priority given to the prevention, diagnosis and control of diabetes as well as prevention and management of risk factors such as obesity”.

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