Pan-African conference to focus on the rapid growth of diabetes in Africa

December 13, 2015

Zimmet, who is co-chair of the scientific committee and a keynote speaker at the conference, said the multi-racial population of Mauritius (Asian Indian Hindus, Asian Indian Muslims, Chinese and Creoles) has undergone rapid industrialization and economic growth over the past several decades. This brought in its wake a dramatic shift in the disease pattern. He noted that these ethnic groups constitute two-thirds of the world's population. Mauritius acts as a microcosm of the global epidemic and data from successive studies here have been critical for IDF in its global predictions of diabetes.

Along with the Mauritius Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, Zimmet and Sir George Alberti have been conducting surveys in Mauritius since 1987 (1992, 1998, and 2004) which have shown that prevalence rates for diabetes and its complications are very high. Between 1987 and 1998, there was a 38% increase in diabetes numbers. In the most recent 2009 survey, (led by Sudhir Kowlessur and Professor Zimmet), there has been a further dramatic increase in numbers.

"This bodes poorly for India (50.8 million) and China (43.2 million), the two nations that already have the most people with diabetes globally as well as the many nations around the world with immigration of these ethnic groups," said Zimmet.

Zimmet also voiced his great concern about the dramatic increase in diabetes in Indigenous populations citing the example of Australia's Aboriginal population. "In our rich nation," he said, "we have close to the highest world rates of diabetes, diabetic kidney disease and amputations in the world. Diabetes is the fastest growing disease worldwide and one of the greatest public health challenges of the 21st Century"

Professor Mbanya said, "Faced with these alarming numbers in Mauritius, it is especially important that we focus on the country this World Diabetes Day. This international conference marks the start of the political action necessary to reverse the diabetes epidemic worldwide."

For the next five years IDF is focused on Diabetes Education and Prevention through its World Diabetes Day campaign.

Source: International Diabetes Federation