The prevalence of diabetes in Africa is at an estimated 7.7%, however in most African countries the majority of cases remain undetected, said Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
"If critical changes are not introduced soon, Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) will increase by a further 19% in developing countries by 2015.
The greatest increases will be in Africa where it is anticipated NCDs will rise by 24%," Motsoaledi said, addressing the Diabetes Leadership Forum Africa 2010 held in Sandton.
He said NCDs currently account for 59% of global deaths and 46% of the global burden of disease. 80% of the burden occurs in low and middle income countries, he said.
Eight million die prematurely
"In low and middle income countries eight million people die prematurely annually from preventable causes. Currently more than 70% of people with diabetes live in low and middle income countries."
According to the health minister people aged between 30 and 59 years in African countries and low and middle income countries die from NCDs at twice the rate of their counterparts in high income countries.
He said that the young age of death due to NCDs was related to, among other causes, a high fat, low fruit and vegetable diet, and weak health systems.
"This is not a good picture, but it is evidence that we must all sit up, take note and take action."
(Sapa, September 2010)
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