Figures show 840, 000 Malawians are diabetic

Nearly a million Malawians are diagnosed with diabetes a non-communicable disease (NCD)  in which there are high levels of sugar in the blood, statistics from Diabetes Association of Malawi have shown.

This comes as Malawi joins the rest of the world in dedicating the month of November as a diabetes awareness month.

The association’s president Pastor Timothy Mtambalika told Nyasa Times the figures have increased dramatically over the years due to the interest most Malawians now have to go for health check up.

“The figure is very big talking of around 6 to 8 percent of the country’s population is really disastrous situation. While a large number of Malawians have realized the need to go for medical check up to know whether they have diabetes or not but still the majority are living with the disease without knowing they have diabetes.

A diabetes patient during a blood test in the QECH in Blantyre, Malawi. © Daniel Flaschar

“That is why we have fought so hard to get international recognition so that we are part of the annual activities that take place around the world with the blessings of the World Health Organization (WHO),” explained Mtambalika.

He however bemoaned previous administrations for taking the spiraling of diabetes cases lightly.

Faith Mbendera one of the diabetic patients who lives in Chileka, Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial city bemoaned that since her diagnosis, she has experienced drug scarcity in public health institutions.

“It is expensive to access drugs. For example, Protaphane/lint or insulin costs about K9 000 and on a monthly basis, I require three, which means I need K27 000 per month to survive,” laments  Mbendera.

“Drugs are very scarce and we have to walk long distances to access medicines for diabetes,” said Eunice M’bwana, who  is among 10 000 registered people who are diabetic.

Mtambalika said the association is lobbying for support from the government to increase funding towards the disease.

Spokesperson of the Ministry of Health Henry Chimbali says government has put in place mechanisms to assist diabetic patients by ensuring that insulin is found in hospitals.

Meanwhile, Mtambalika has disclosed that in this year’s celebrations scheduled for November 26, the association has joined forces with the ministry of health in a bid to improve relations with the government for the sake of Malawians.

Diabetes according to various health sources is a chronic disease, which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.

According to WHO’s latest statistics, one in three adults worldwide, according to the report, has raised blood pressure, a condition that causes around half of all deaths from stroke and heart disease. One in 10 adults has diabetes.

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