Inaugural SA Diabetes Summit set to tackle diabetes challenges

Posted on November 03, 2021

To address the diabetes crisis in South Africa and to develop a coordinated response, the University of Pretoria Diabetes Research Centre (UP DRC) and the Diabetes Alliance are presenting the inaugural South African Diabetes Summit on Wednesday, 10 November 2021 ahead of World Diabetes Day on 14 November.

The online event will take place from 9am to 1pm and is open to the public.

Diabetes is the number one cause of death among women in South Africa, and the second leading cause of death in men, according to Statistics South Africa. One in two people with diabetes are undiagnosed, says the International Diabetes Federation, and two out of three people in South Africa are at risk of prediabetes, according to the South African Demographic and Health Survey.

“We are all affected by this growing epidemic,” says Bridget McNulty, Chairperson of the Diabetes Alliance. “Every person in South Africa knows someone or has a family member living with it. Undiagnosed, untreated and uncontrolled diabetes is leading to serious complications. These impact people’s daily quality of life, and burden the public and private healthcare sector.”

What’s worse is that people with diabetes have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and many have died.

“We have decided to confront the diabetes tsunami so that South Africa is never again found unprepared when facing a health challenge similar to the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dr Patrick Ngassa Piotie of the UP DRC. “We share the International Diabetes Federation’s call for action: #IfNotNowWhen.”

“This November, instead of just telling people about diabetes in South Africa, we have invited all those living with and working with diabetes to join us in co-creating SA’s first Diabetes Charter,” McNulty said. “It will be launched at the summit.”

The Diabetes Alliance includes organisations of people living with diabetes, research and tertiary institutions, healthcare providers, professional associations, pharmaceutical companies and NPOs, all of whom are committed to improving the diabetes response in South Africa.

The South African Diabetes Summit will take stock of the current situation and produce a Diabetes Charter that will allow all interested parties to develop a stronger, more sustainable response to South Africa’s diabetes epidemic.

Ahead of the summit, collaborative work streams are outlining evidence-led challenges and will propose solutions under five themes, based on the World Health Organisation’s Global Diabetes Compact. Each theme tackles a different aspect of the diabetes problem in South Africa, from awareness, prevention and education to management, access to care, surveillance (data), innovation and research.

The Diabetes Summit is also an opportunity to officially introduce UP’s Diabetes Research Centre as an advocate for sustainable, evidence-based, person-centred care for people living with diabetes. The centre endeavours to improve the lives of affected South Africans through research and innovation.

To attend the summit, please register at

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