OPINION | Diseases of prosperity are killing our nation. It's high time we pay more attention

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  • Diseases of prosperity are killing our future leaders, writes Sindisiwe Mvango.
  • She highlights the dangers of diseases like hypertension and diabetes, challenging South Africans to pay more attention to them.
  • "I think it is high time our government and people investigate diseases of prosperity like stroke, diabetes and heart diseases," Dr Sindisiwe says. 

Diseases of prosperity in low to middle-income countries are killing future leaders. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stroke is the second leading cause of death and the third leading cause of disability. The organisation reports that one in four people is in danger of stroke in their lifetime. Stroke is caused by being overweight or obese, physical inactivity, and tobacco and alcohol use. 

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Stroke is one of the diseases that is also caused by diabetes, together with cardiovascular diseases. Meaning diabetes is a disease we need to educate our people about, as diabetes prevalence in South Africa has reached 11.3%, according to the International Diabetes Federation, and it is the highest in Africa. 

The WHO reported that the number of people with diabetes rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014 globally. Prevalence has increased more rapidly in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries. Although the focus in South Africa has been TB and HIV in past decades, I think it is high time our government and people investigate diseases of prosperity like stroke, diabetes and heart diseases.

They should equally be considered as other diseases because, according to statistics (2018), diabetes is the second leading cause of death in SA at 5.9% after 6.0% of Tuberculosis, followed by cerebrovascular diseases at 5.1%. 

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My challenge for South Africans is, how many people in your family/neighbourhood do you see going and fetching their hypertension pills or diabetes pills? We do not need statistics from Stats SA or any organisation to tell us the numbers. We can see the rise in numbers in our communities. 

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