Nearly four million South Africans suffer from diabetes, with many people living unaware that they have this chronic illness, November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and community pharmacies are urging South Africans to get screened and tested for diabetes.
Jackie Maimin, the CEO of the ICPA says that diabetes can be effectively managed when caught early. “However, when left untreated, it can lead to potential complications that include heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, and nerve damage.”
According to International Diabetes Federation Statistics for 2018, over 425 million people worldwide have diabetes, and the United Nations health agency estimates that 3.4 million people die of diabetes every year.
Free diabetes screening
Independent community pharmacies are offering free diabetes risk assessment and screening at selected pharmacy clinics across the country in November. Maimin explains that the ICPA has developed a diabetes risk assessment tool which predicts the chances of a person developing diabetes in the next 10 years.
This risk screening, available free of charge at most independent community pharmacy’s during Diabetes Awareness Month, features a series of targeted questions and data analyses that then indicates whether a person should go on for further testing and if they need counselling on lifestyle changes to avoid developing diabetes.
“The results of the diabetes screening and random blood glucose test reading will indicate to the pharmacist if that person needs to undergo further, more in-depth testing through a fasting blood test. Should the results from this show that a person has diabetes the pharmacist will then refer them on to their GP for further assessment and management,” says Maimin.
Treat2Target Campaign – helping diabetics get effective treatment
The ICPA is also driving a campaign during November to assist diabetics who are already on treatment but who are not reaching their target glucose levels, specifically to assess why they are not on target and helping them to optimise their medication and the way they take their medicines.
“Many diagnosed diabetics, although on treatment, are uncontrolled and therefore still at risk of the effects of this dangerous disease,” says Maimin. “We aim to help these people to optimise their treatment and their lifestyle choices so that their blood glucose levels are in check. This is an awareness campaign – a concentrated effort by pharmacists to be more involved with diabetic patients on their chronic illness journey.”
For more information on the diabetes screening being offered at independent community pharmacies and on the Treat2Target initiative contact the ICPA on (021) 671 4473.