The Hospital Superintendent at the Military Health Services 2nd Brigade Commander in Francistown, L.t Colonel Boipuso Onkabetse has raised fears over the high prevalence of diabetes in the country.
He expressed concern that this prevalence in Botswana stood at 5.8 percent a situation which is worrisome given the country’s small population. He was speaking during the World Diabetes Day commemoration held in Francistown on Monday.
“In a population of a little over 2 million this prevalence rate is significant. However quite a large number of our population (77.5 percent) aged between 15 years and 16 years do not know whether they have diabetes or not because they have never measured their blood sugar level,” he said.
He said it is disheartening to note that for the vast majority, the basics of daily diabetes management are still beyond reach especially for the people living in low and middle income countries Botswana included. L.t Colonel Onkabetse also said the diabetes epidemic and its existing health disparities need to be urgently addressed and overcome so that people living with diabetes get access to early care. He said people around the world need access to medicine, innovative technologies, education, support and care to manage their diabetes every day.
“Looking at the innovation brought to the market over the past decades, it shows that the diabetic epidemic cannot be solved by just one single player. It takes a network of strong partners working together to address the existing challenges and alleviate the individual and societal burden of this disease,” he said.
L.t Colonel Onkabetse said assistance is needed in all areas; be it funding, capacity of the healthcare system, awareness diagnosis and treatment capacities. He reminded the participants that the World Health Organization member states have supported the creation of global targets for diabetes as part of the recommendations to strengthen and monitor diabetes response within national non-communicable disease programs.
“Some of these global targets are that: 80 percent of people living with diabetes are diagnosed, 80 percent have good control of sugar levels and 80 percent of people diagnosed have good control of blood pressure,” he said.
He said it is unacceptable that a century since the discovery of insulin many people still cannot access this essential and life saving medicine. He however said the Botswana government like many other governments globally has taken a deliberate action to maximize efforts to educate its people on this debilitating disease. He said the focus in on prevention and early detection.