Over 700 people below the age of 25 years in the country are suffering from diabetes, Francois Gishoma, the president of Rwanda Diabetes Association said on Wednesday, warning that the numbers could be higher.
He was speaking on the World Diabetes Day, where he recalled that in 2003, the association knew of only three cases of diabetes.
Diabetes is a condition in which the body either does not produce enough, or does not properly respond to insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas.
"There are 760 youth who are diabetic in Rwanda and these are the ones we know of from 21 hospitals. This implies that the number is actually much bigger than this although we don't have any national statistics," he said.
Gishoma added that figures from the Diabetes Atlas, a global body that provides periodic statistics on the disease, show that 2 percent of Rwandans are suffering from diabetes.
He further said that the Ministry of Health will, during the course of next year, carry out a survey to come up with updated figures of diabetics.
Most of the youth suffering from diabetes were born with it while others are diabetic because of their lifestyles including eating junk food.
Among the challenges of diabetic patients, he pointed out, include expensive treatment which some can't afford. He said that in order for one to receive treatment; they have to spend Rwf 60,000 a month.
Dina Umulisa, a resident of Remera who suffers from Diabetes, concurs that treatment is very expensive although she has opted for relatively cheaper medicine.
"I spend Rwf10,000 for 30 tablets of which I must take one every day. However some patients are supposed to take two of these tablets everyday which becomes even more costly. One has to go for regular checkups if they are diabetic so some patients are supposed to take medicine which is actually more expensive," she said.
Umulisa said that this medication cannot be acquired under the community health insurance scheme, Mutuelle de Sante, and called on the government to help.
Diabetes is classified into 3 types including; type I - common in children; type 2 for adults; and Gestational diabetes, common in some pregnant mothers and can be cured.
This disease can lead to blindness, impotence, kidney failure, liver malfunction and amputation.
In order to reduce excessive sugars and fats which catalyze the diabetic condition of patients, physical exercises are recommended.