Diabetes is fast becoming one of the major causes of premature illness and death worldwide. WHO estimates that 347 million people worldwide have diabetes, 90% of whom have type 2 diabetes which is largely caused by excess body weight and physical inactivity.
In countries like Senegal, rapid urbanization and changing lifestyles have resulted in a massive increase in obesity particularly in young people, many of whom are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Based on an estimation that 4-6% of people in Senegal have diabetes, at least 400,000 Senegalese people are living with the disease but only 60,000 of them have been diagnosed and are following treatment in the health system.
Many people do not know that they have diabetes as they are unaware of the causes and symptoms of diabetes, and often have limited access to health services, particularly in rural areas.
Lack of access to diagnosis and management of diabetes can have serious consequences including heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and severe foot sores that may require amputation.
Every year during Ramadan, the health authorities in Senegal witness a peak in the urgent hospitalization of people with uncontrolled diabetes.
“Ramadan is a period of high sugar consumption,” says Mr Baye Oumar Guèye, national secretary of the Senegalese Diabetic Support Association and a diabetic himself. “mDiabetes is an essential and welcome initiative that allows people with diabetes to observe the holy month of Ramadan while avoiding the risk of complications.”