Curable diabetes takes centre stage

Caring Network member Thabisa Gosa checking the blood pressure of her colleague, Nomfuneko Dilanga.

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) School of Public Health (SOPH) and its partners have sent out a stern warning about the dangers of Type 2 diabetes.

The school held an awareness campaign under the theme, “Let’s Beat It Together”, on Wednesday August 8 at Andile Msizi Hall, in Site B, Khayelitsha.

Warning the community to protect themselves against the disease, Professor Thandi Puoane, UWC Co-Investigator, said Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, occurring primarily as a result of poor diet and a lack of sufficient physical activity, which most often leads to obesity.

Professor Puoane stressed that people need to eat well and exercise.

She said they visited Khayelitsha because they found its residents were not eating well.

She said they mostly invited those who have been diagnosed with the disease.

“But we are here to balance the scale. We say to those who have the disease, it is not the end of the world. But we are also here to urge those who have not tested for it to come forward to test and continue living a good life,” she told Vukani.

She said these health issues are further compounded by genetic and environmental factors. However, she said the disease is manageable.

“A lifestyle condition, Type 2 diabetes can be treated with changes in diet and physical activity, and an awareness of how the changing ‘food environment’ we live in induces us to eat more processed foods and drink more and more soft drinks,” she said.

The event focused on self-management and community support in both the prevention and management of Type 2 diabetes. It saw mostly senior citizens getting tested.

NGOs and community-based organisations were at hand to help out.

Free blood sugar and blood pressure testing was provided to those present.

Professor Puoane said they are working with community-based organisations because they need them to monitor people. She said the organisation will continue with the campaign to warn the communities about diabetes.

“These people live and stay here. We do not come here, say words and leave, come back again after sometime to talk about the same thing. These organisations are trained and they will continue with the work.”

She said the event forms part of the university’s community engagement initiatives, and is linked to Self-Management Approach and Reciprocal learning for Type 2 Diabetes (SMART2D), a multi-country study being conducted in Uganda and Sweden.

SMART2D is supported through a grant from the European Union Horizon2020 Programme and is currently in its third year.

Senior citizen Nobantu Tshangisa said she was glad awareness was being raised about Type 2 diabetes.

“There are lot of these diseases. To us the seniors these things are confusing. But if I heard well, people need to eat well and exercise. There is hope in the end because it is manageable,” she said.

Another resident, Ndiphiwe Magwa said such a campaign is helpful, not only to elders but young people too.

“I would have loved to see more young people here. As you see the hall is full of seniors and yet we are almost in the grave. This is more helpful to young people to look after themselves. But we are grateful to get such valuable information,” he said.

NGO Caring Network will continue with the awareness campaigns.