Updated 24 February 2016

450 South African nurses to undergo diabetes training as epidemic mounts

Over the next three years, 450 South African nurses will receive diabetes training to better identify symptoms and to educate patients about diabetes management.

Nurses have an important role to play in public health at every level of the healthcare system. In South Africa where diabetes is quickly becoming an epidemic, the role of our nurses is even more critical.

This sentiment is shared by Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Joe Phaahla who attended the first in a series of workshops designed to empower public sector nurses to manage diabetes at primary healthcare level.

“Nurses are primary caregivers, and have the most frequent and direct contact with people at risk of or living with diabetes,” he said. “As the incidence of diabetes increases in South Africa, it is important to capacitate them to deal with this epidemic in every way.”

Read: What is the prevalence of diabetes in South Africa?

200 nurses attended the workshop

Dr Joe Phaahla spoke at the four day workshop, training 200 nurses from around the country. Welcoming Dr Phaahla to the event, Dr Timmy Kedijang, General Manager of Novo Nordisk South Africa, emphasised that approximately ”46% of people living with diabetes in South Africa remain undiagnosed1. Training nurses to better identify early symptoms of diabetes is therefore essential. Just as important, nurses need to be able to assist those living with the condition to manage it effectively, as non-compliance with treatment protocols is often the reason that complications such as blindness, nerve damage and limb amputations  develop.” 

nurses at diabetes training workshop

The series of training workshops has therefore been designed to assist nurses in the public sector to deal with every aspect of the rapidly rising incidence of diabetes in South Africa.

“Early detection dramatically increases quality of life and longevity,” said Dr Kedijang, “and nurses have a vital role to play in identifying people at risk and improving diagnosis rates.”

This workshop will ensure that the nurses are also capable of counselling patients on managing their condition, the importance of exercise and following a healthy lifestyle. Such training can help people living with diabetes to enjoy better treatment outcomes and a healthy, active life.  

“Our aim as the Department of Health is to promote health and prevent disease,” said Dr Phaahla. “We are therefore pleased to be able to partner with Novo Nordisk to ensure that nurses benefit from high-level training in this way.”

Read: Preventing obesity and diabetes

450 nurses to be trained over next three years

A total of 450 public sector nurses from around the country will benefit over the next three years from this partnership. “We are committed to supporting government plans that are aimed at improving access to care, particularly for those in the rural areas, which explains our enthusiasm in getting this training underway” said Dr Kedijang.  

“Initiatives like these help us to get the message about diabetes out to the public.  Greater awareness of the condition and advanced training for nurses will help us to facilitate both early diagnosis of diabetes and effective treating of diabetes.” concluded Dr Phaahla. 

Read more:

What is diabetes? 

Symptoms of diabetes  

Causes of diabetes 


1. International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas, 6th ed. Brussel, Belgium 


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