By Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Western Cape Ministry of Health:
Yesterday, Minister Nomafrench Mbombo joined a group of Senior citizens at Metrorail’s 22 Platform for a senior citizens wellness day as part of Diabetes Awareness Month.
These senior citizens are all part of the Western Cape on Wellness (WOW) Healthy Lifestyles initiative, and came out in their numbers to promote wellness as a way of combatting chronic diseases like Diabetes.
Throughout the month of November, awareness has been created around this disease in order to educate society on the importance of diabetes prevention and control.
According to the Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology, three-and-a-half million South Africans (about 6% of our population) suffer from diabetes and there are many more that are undiagnosed. This is why this disease is often called the Silent Killer.
Diabetes mellitus is the fifth highest cause of natural deaths in South Africa, and the number one cause of natural deaths in the Western Cape.
The majority of people in South Africa have type-2-diabetes, however many of these cases go undiagnosed as there are very few symptoms initially.
The fact that many diabetic patients only get help when they already have complications, also poses a great burden on the health care system, whereas 80% of type 2 diabetes could have been avoided by following of a healthy eating plan and regular exercise.
That is why the Western Cape Department of Health has identified wellness as a major priority area to promote healthy lifestyles through the WOW initiative.
The overarching goal is to sustain a culture of wellness at all levels of society in order to prevent, reduce and better manage chronic lifestyle diseases. This initiative has been instrumental in equipping individuals and communities with the right knowledge and skills to take charge of their own health.
Physical activity and healthier eating form part of the WOW! Initiative, which is fortunate to boast with over 3000 members across the Metro. This project has shown great success and has been well received across all communities.
The group of senior citizens who took part in the awareness activities are all very excited to take ownership of their health.
“It is important to prioritize healthy lifestyles. The WCG through its Western Cape on Wellness Healthy Lifestyles initiative is trying to reach as many communities as possible. Physical activity and healthy eating are considered essential to combatting a number of lifestyle diseases, including diabetes” says Minister Mbombo
Many deaths and complications can be avoided. We would therefore like to encourage people to go for screening. The Department has free testing available at all clinics when clients go for routine visits. Those with a strong family history of diabetes are often at risk of developing the disease.