14 November 2012

South Africa: Healthy Lifestyle the Way to Go to Prevent Diabetes

Johannesburg — As the country celebrates World Diabetes Day today, the Gauteng Health Department has reiterated calls for South Africans to lead healthy lifestyles and do regular check-ups to prevent diabetes.

In observing the day, the department will hold various activities throughout the province to raise awareness of the disease.

Activities include public education, where the provincial Health Department will be at Tshwane and Ekurhuleni Districts, educating the public on good eating habits and conduct different health screenings such as blood glucose, blood pressure, weight and circumference measuring.

Johannesburg Metro District will on 29 November observe the day by targeting taxi drivers and vendors who are unable to go to health facilities due to the nature of their work.

On the day, different stalls will be on display to raise awareness of the disease as well as education on obesity, foot care, physical activity, healthy eating and treatment adherence.

Health screenings for blood glucose, eye testing, blood pressure, measuring of circumference and weight will also be done.

Celebrated worldwide under the theme 'Diabetes Prevention and Education', the day aims to create awareness of the disease, which is both genetic and lifestyle related.

Communities are also encouraged to test so they can be educated on how to manage or prevent the illness.

Diabetes is a chronic disease, but early detection and effective management may lead to a normal lifespan and quality of life. This reduces complications due to diabetes such as blindness, kidney disease, cardio vascular diseases as well as amputations of limbs.

The department said that notable progress has been made in the fight against diabetes, with more than 40 000 people diagnosed in public health facilities in the last fiscal year.

"In the previous financial year, 40 656 new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in clinics around the province and 98 support groups - which serve to improve adherence to treatment and are an integral part of care for patients with chronic conditions - were established in the past five years," the department said.

Signs and symptoms of diabetes include, frequent urination, excessive thirst, unexplained weight loss, extreme hunger, sudden vision changes, tingling or numbness in hands or feet, feeling very tired most of the time, very dry skin and sores that are slow to heal.

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