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  • COVID-19: WHO raises alarm over high death rates in Africans with diabetes

World Health Organisation, WHO, new report has shown death rates from COVID-19 infections are significantly higher in African patients with diabetes.

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In a preliminary analysis presented Thursday ahead of the World Diabetes Day billed to hold 14th November 2021, WHO noted that Africa’s sharp increase in diabetes is clashing with the COVID-19 pandemic and poor access to vaccines.

Reacting to the study, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said: “COVID-19 is delivering a clear message: fighting the diabetes epidemic in Africa is in many ways as critical as the battle against the current pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic will eventually subside, but Africa is projected in the coming years to experience the highest increase in diabetes globally.

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“We must act now to prevent new cases, vaccinate people who have this condition, and, equally importantly, identify and support the millions of Africans unaware they are suffering from this silent killer.” The study explained that diabetes impairs the body’s ability to produce or process insulin, a substance essential to counteracting a dangerous rise in blood sugar.

The disease causes inflammation and poor blood circulation, both of which increase the risk of complications, including death, from COVID-19. The WHO analysis evaluated data from 13 countries on underlying conditions or comorbidities in Africans who tested positive for COVID-19.

It revealed a 10.2 percent case fatality rate in patients with diabetes, compared with 2.5 percent for COVID-19 patients overall. The case fatality rate for people with diabetes was also twice as high as the fatality rate among patients suffering from any comorbidity.

In addition to people with diabetes, the three most frequent underlying conditions included patients with HIV and hypertension. The countries contributing data to the analysis were Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Guinea, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sao Tome, and Principe, and Uganda.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, an estimated 24 million people are living with diabetes in Africa in 2021 and the continent is expected to experience the highest increase in diabetes globally, with the number of Africans suffering from the disease predicted to rise to 55 million by 2045, an increase of 134 percent compared with 2021.


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Africa is the region with the highest number of people who do not know their diagnosis – an estimated 70 percent of people with diabetes do not know they have the disease.

Director, Communicable and Noncommunicable Cluster at WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr. Benido Impouma advised that health officials in Africa should take advantage of the growing availability of low-cost rapid diagnostic tests to routinely test patients in diabetes centers to ensure early detection and proper care.

“These centers also can be key venues for vaccination.”

Hammed Zubair


posted 2021-11-12 08:14:18

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