Di­a­betes robs more women of healthy fu­ture

World Di­a­betes Day fo­cuses on the right to a healthy fu­ture, writes Vuyo Mk­ize

Cape Argus - - FRONT PAGE -

WOMEN are of­ten the pri­mary care­tak­ers in the fam­ily and play a cen­tral role in the long-term health sta­tus of chil­dren and other house­hold mem­bers. But this cru­cial role could di­min­ish in the next few years as women face their own health-care bat­tles. One ma­jor chal­lenge is di­a­betes, with the lat­est sta­tis­tics show­ing that women re­main the most vul­ner­a­ble to this life­style dis­ease com­pared with men.

Di­a­betes has be­come the big­gest killer of South African women and, ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics SA, the sta­tis­tics paint an even worse story on its so­cio-eco­nomic toll.

Ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Di­a­betes Fed­er­a­tion (IDF), 200 mil­lion women live with di­a­betes world­wide. This is pro­jected to in­crease to 313 mil­lion by 2040. It is the ninth lead­ing cause of death in women glob­ally, caus­ing 2.1 mil­lion deaths a year.

Un­for­tu­nately, be­cause of poor so­cio-eco­nomic con­di­tions, girls and women with di­a­betes ex­pe­ri­ence bar­ri­ers in ac­cess­ing cost-ef­fec­tive di­a­betes prevention, early de­tec­tion, di­ag­no­sis, treat­ment and care, par­tic­u­larly in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

So­cio-eco­nomic in­equal­i­ties also ex­pose women to the main risk fac­tors of di­a­betes, in­clud­ing poor diet and nu­tri­tion, phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity, to­bacco con­sump­tion and harm­ful use of al­co­hol.

World Di­a­betes Day is ob­served to­day and the theme this year fo­cuses on: Women and di­a­betes – our right to a healthy fu­ture.

Com­ment­ing on the sever­ity of the ill­ness and how it’s be­ing man­aged, As­tra-Zeneca Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals’ med­i­cal ad­viser Arvind Hari­ram said: “While ex­ist­ing medicines have been of great ben­e­fit in the man­age­ment of di­a­betes, treat­ment goals still re­main sub­op­ti­mal and there’s a need for newer treat­ment op­tions to man­age this dis­ease.”

Speak­ing at the com­pany’s Con­nect­ing Ex­perts in Di­a­betes Fo­rum in Cape Town, key opin­ion leader and en­docri­nol­o­gist – Dr Sun­deep Ruder made a strong case for ed­u­ca­tion and ad­vo­cacy in the treat­ment of di­a­betes, stat­ing that sci­ence can­not be seen in iso­la­tion.

He said: “With cur­rent re­search show­ing the im­pact of stress, job strain, sleep ab­nor­mal­i­ties and food se­cu­rity on in­creased risk of di­a­betes – there’s now an even stronger need for ed­u­ca­tion to bet­ter man­age the pan­demic.”

Ac­cord­ing to the di­a­betes fed­er­a­tion, about 20.9 mil­lion of women world­wide (16.2%) who gave birth in 2015 had some form of hy­per­gly­caemia in preg­nancy.

Fig­ures show that half of women, par­tic­u­larly those in their child-bear­ing years, are worst af­fected by di­a­betes with one in seven births af­fected by ges­ta­tional di­a­betes mel­li­tus. Half of those who ex­pe­ri­enced di­a­betes dur­ing preg­nancy are likely to de­velop Type 2 di­a­betes within five to 10 years af­ter de­liv­ery.

Half of all cases of hy­per­gly­caemia (in­sulin re­sis­tance) in preg­nancy oc­cur in women un­der the age of 30, with the ma­jor­ity of these cases hap­pen­ing in lowand mid­dle- in­come coun­tries, where ac­cess to ma­ter­nal care is of­ten lim­ited.

Women with Type 2 di­a­betes are al­most 10 times more likely to have coro­nary heart dis­ease than are women with­out the con­di­tion.

Dr Larry Dis­tiller, a spe­cial­ist physi­cian and en­docri­nol­o­gist who also chairs the Cen­tre of Di­a­betes and En­docrinol­ogy, said that this year’s aware­ness cam­paign was fo­cused on pro­mot­ing the im­por­tance of af­ford­able and eq­ui­table ac­cess for all women at risk for, or liv­ing with, di­a­betes.

The cam­paign ad­vo­cates that women and girls are key agents in the adop­tion of healthy life­styles to im­prove the health and well-be­ing of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

“While we ad­vo­cate an aware­ness of di­a­betes for all peo­ple, this year’s cam­paign specif­i­cally aims to high­light the es­sen­tial di­a­betes treat­ments and tech­nolo­gies, self-man­age­ment ed­u­ca­tion and in­for­ma­tion that women re­quire to achieve op­ti­mal di­a­betes out­comes and strengthen their ca­pac­ity to self-man­age or pre­vent Type 2 di­a­betes.”

Dis­tiller said women with di­a­betes could have poor preg­nancy out­comes if good care was not ac­ces­si­ble from pre­con­cep­tion through to post-de­liv­ery.

POW­ER­FUL LIFE­STYLE: High­light­ing di­a­betes treat­ments and tech­nolo­gies, self-man­age­ment ed­u­ca­tion and in­for­ma­tion.

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