23 Oct
2017
Lloyd Paul, Jenny Russell, Holly Wasserfall

Diabetes may be the second highest cause of death in South Africa after tuberculosis but people are still in denial.

As most people only begin to look after their health when they have a scare and are forced to drastically stem their intake of fast food and begin exercising, the Durban Wellness Festival supported by SASA and Lilly has been created to show people that they can make positive, fun changes before it is too late.

The strong message from Jenny Russell, branch manager for Diabetes SA Durban, a non-profit organisation that provides support and wellness education for both diabetics and communities at large, is that diabetes is both preventable and manageable.

“Get tested at the Durban Wellness Festival so you can manage this silent killer or, better still, learn how to live a healthy life the fun way,” she suggests.

The Durban Wellness Festival takes place on Saturday, November 11, 2017. It is a true celebration of all things healthy with live music and an expo that not only aims to raise awareness about the scourge of diabetes in South Africa but also to encourage people to look after the one thing that money cannot buy – their health.

“Join us for either a 5km Run or Walk, a variety of entertaining activities, and a live performance by Durban singer and songwriter, Holly Wasserfall who also happens to be a type 1 diabetic. This is a family affair, so everyone is welcome – even your pet dog. But on a leash, of course,” says Russell.

Taking place at the Durban Amphitheatre at the Bay of Plenty, the Durban Wellness Festival will open for registration at 10am. The Durban Wellness Festival officially kicks off at 2pm with the 5km walk and run starting at 4pm with the entire event finishing at 6pm with lucky draw spot prizes.

Russell adds that despite the light mood of the day, Diabetes SA will not be pulling any punches when it comes to driving home the reality of the diabetes pandemic.  “Diabetes has become known as the Tsunami of the 21st century, killing more people worldwide than AIDS and cancer combined. Our main objective is to bring diabetes into the spotlight, in the hope that it gains the recognition it deserves, instead of remaining in the shadow of HIV, AIDS and Cancer.”

To bring the message even closer to home, Russell states that the latest statistics received from a podiatrist doing her Master’s degree are absolutely shocking. “In 2014, 1,288,973 diabetic patients were registered in state health facilities alone in KwaZulu-Natal.  An unacceptable total of 2323 diabetic lower limb amputations were carried out between 2013 and 2014 in KZN. This amounts to six per day!” she points out.

When you have diabetes, your body is either unable to make enough insulin, or it is unable to correctly use the insulin it does make. As a result, the glucose in your bloodstream cannot move into your cells to be used as energy and thus creates a build-up, resulting in high glucose levels.

Damage caused by elevated blood glucose levels is irreversible. Diabetes has been linked to cardiovascular disease, stroke, eye disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, lower limb amputations, sexual dysfunction as well as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

2016 Statistics from the International Diabetes Federation, the World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control paint an extremely depressing picture.

Worldwide, 415 million people were diagnosed as diabetic as opposed to 35 million patients with HIV and 14 million with cancer. Every six seconds a person dies from diabetes-related causes. Every 10 seconds two people develop diabetes and every 30 seconds, a lower limb is amputated due to diabetes related complications.

What is most startling, according to Russell is that statistics show that at least 50 percent of those with diabetes are unaware of their condition. “That means that those numbers are, in reality far higher. In some countries, this figure may reach 80%. We have between 3 and 3.5 million diagnosed diabetics in South Africa. We also have an estimated 1.5 undiagnosed diabetics and approximately 1.5 to 2 million pre-diabetics in South Africa.”

Children are also not immune. Worldwide, every year, 70000 children under the age of 15 develop Type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes in children is becoming a global public health issue with potentially serious outcomes. Thirty percent of children born since the year 2000 are expected to become diabetic if lifestyle changes are not made.

95 percent of all diabetics are type 2 with 90 percent of all complications experienced by type 2 diabetics. “What is so frustrating is that this is preventable if people eat healthy foods and exercise. Hence, it is important to get the message out there and to continually try to educate people to make good lifestyle choices for both themselves and their families,” she concludes.

Supporters of the 2017 Durban Wellness Festival are SASA who are committed to the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases in South Africa, as well as Lilly Diabetes, who has been a global leader in diabetes care since 1923 when they introduced the world‘s first commercial insulin. Ninety years later, they remain committed to meeting the needs of people with diabetes from medicines to support programs and more.

A major emphasis of Lilly’s work is to understand that people with diabetes should first be seen as individuals. Many of their programs and solutions are designed based on feedback from people who live with the illness every day.

The 5km Walk or the 5km Run costs just R60 per person with all proceeds going towards Diabetes SA Durban. Please note that this organisation is a self-funding organisation and does not receive any form of government funding and all proceeds raised go back into the education of this dreaded disease within KZN. The Wellness Expo is free to the public.

For further information about this event, please contact Pat Bonini on 082 499 5222 during office hours or via email atmw.nerve@mweb.co.za.

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