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Diabetes Awareness

THE PROBLEM

It is estimated that there are 1 – 1,2 MILLION diabetics in KwaZulu Natal.

Apart from Diabetes SA & DESSA (Diabetes Education Society of SA) there is no other organisation in the country providing diabetes education to diabetics or Health Professionals.

Currently, the percentage of Healthcare Professionals who have relevant diabetes knowledge amounts to less than 1%.

Diabetes is known as "The Silent Killer" for a reason – most diabetics are not even aware of the damage taking place in their body.

Diabetes complications we are experiencing in KZN are as follows: amputations, cardiovascular & kidney disease, stroke, blindness and premature death, all of which are putting severe strain on business, family and healthcare systems.

The plight of the diabetic in poorer rural communities (many of whom are not educated past 7th grade) is SEVERE.

Our present funding has been received ONLY from our membership fees of R150 per year (of which our branch receives R50) and therefore no project of any sizable cost has been able to take place.

THE SOLUTION

EDUCATION AND SELF MONITORING ARE THE 2-FOLD KEY TO A LONG AND COMPLICATION FREE LIFE AS A DIABETIC

Self monitoring and self management skills have to be taught to ALL DIABETICS, especially to those who are not able to afford Private Healthcare, and which the Government Health Services DO NOT PROVIDE.

Self management implies that the person with diabetes will understand the impact of factors such as food intake, exercise, stress and medication on blood glucose, and will be able to make appropriate adjustments to maintain glucose within target levels.

Our main goal is to provide diabetics with the tools to self manage their condition (glucometers, testing strips, educational material & Support Groups).

The main outcome we are expecting is a DRAMATIC reduction in the number of complications we are encountering.

To date we have had no funding commitment from Government or the Pharmaceutical Industry.

WHAT IS DIABETES?

Diabetes is a condition that is caused by the body's inability to turn glucose (the sugar our body produces as energy from all food we eat) into energy. Diabetes causes the glucose that your body does not turn into energy to remain in your blood stream and causes your kidneys, which filter the blood, to work harder than is necessary. If your kidneys cannot properly filter the glucose from your blood stream, the result is more frequent urination, dehydration, and loss of energy.

WHAT IS TYPE 1 DIABETES?

The pancreas is attacked and damaged, usually by your own immune system.

The ability to produce insulin is diminished.

There is a rapid onset of symptoms, so medical help is sought quickly.

Usually occurs in childhood, or under the age of 20.

WHAT IS TYPE 2 DIABETES?

Lack of exercise, an unhealthy diet and stress are all factors that promote weight gain.

With this extra weight, your body can’t effectively use the insulin it produces.

More insulin is needed than before to keep your glucose levels within the normal range.

This extra work load "wears" your pancreas out.

This results in a gradual rise in blood glucose levels, and you are unaware there is a problem.

Often a diagnosis is made only when a complication presents itself (2-5 years later!!).

This is why Diabetes is called the SILENT KILLER.

Many Type 2’s have a family history of diabetes.

SELF – MONITORING IN TYPE 1 DIABETES

IS A "NON-NEGOTIABLE"

DAILY Self-monitoring is essential for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics. From the day they are diagnosed, diabetics should be testing their blood glucose level EVERY DAY. There is simply no other way they can keep control of their condition and know realistically what is happening inside their body.

Up till now, Diabetes SA has been helping diabetics, by providing glucometers and testing strips at lower prices. Due to our lack of funds, we are finding it increasingly difficult to sustain this.

Type 1 diabetics (those whose pancreas no longer produces insulin) are usually diagnosed in childhood, and have to inject insulin every day in order to stay alive. The shocking truth is that we have encountered Type 1 diabetics who do not even own a glucometer, and therefore have no idea what is happening to their blood sugar level.

Families with Type 1 children (and no medical aid) are forced to pay for extra boxes of testing strips, as they are only given one box of 50 strips every two months by the hospital or clinic. Most Type 1 diabetics use 2-3 boxes of strips per month, so the cost to them is enormous.

SELF – MONITORING IN TYPE 2 DIABETES

IS A "NON-NEGOTIABLE"

Type 2 diabetics (those whose pancreas still produces small amounts of insulin) used to be diagnosed in adults over 50, but due to the growing obesity problem, the largest growing incidence of Type 2 diabetics is now in the 25-45yr age group. Most Type 2 diabetics start on oral medication but are eventually put on insulin.

As seen in the previous statistics, 95% of Diabetics are type 2 BUT 90% of the complications are in Type 2 diabetics (because they are not afforded the "luxury" of daily self-monitoring). Unfortunately neither medical aids nor the government will supply Type 2 diabetics with testing strips unless they are on insulin (by which time they are suffering from complications!!)

Diabetes SA has been helping Type 2 diabetics by providing glucometers and testing strips at lower prices. Once again, due to our lack of funds, we are finding it increasingly difficult to sustain this. Our aim is to be able to supply Type 2 diabetics with at least 1 box of 50 strips every month at a lower cost than pharmacies.

For additional information contact District Chairman Diabetes Awareness, Brian Porteous - email.

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