There were 1,826,100 cases of diabetes in South Africa in 2017, states the International Diabetes Forum (IDF) Africa Region, placing a great burden on the country’s health system. The Forum includes 49 diverse sub-Saharan countries including South Africa and territories. It currently represents 34 diabetes organisations in 29 countries.

Ahead of the World Diabetes Day on 14 November, SAMWUMED is advising its members to take steps to understand how they can avoid the disease and those who already have it – how they can successfully manage it.

  • Symptoms of Diabetes

According to Diabetes South Africa, symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Unusual thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent or recurring infections
  • Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal, boils and itching skin
    Tingling and numbness in the hands or feet.


However, many people who have type 2 diabetes may show no symptoms, states the organisation.

Both adults and children can get diabetes.

In children, diabetes is stressful for both the children and their families. For instance, they may need to take insulin or oral medication, check their blood glucose several times during the day and remember to make correct food choices. For school-age children, these tasks can make them feel ‘different’ from their classmates.


  • Types of Diabetes

The Centre for Disease Management and Prevention (CDC) highlights four types of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes

  • A chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin.

Type 2 Diabetes

  • A chronic condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose).

Pre Diabetes

  • A condition in which the blood sugar is high, but not high enough to be type diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes

  • A form of high blood sugar affecting pregnant women. It is a type of diabetes that is first seen in a pregnant woman who did not have diabetes before she was pregnant


  • People at Risk of Getting Diabetes

According to Diabetes South Africa, people at risk of getting diabetes include:

  • Being aged 35 or over
  • Being overweight (especially if you carry most of your weight around your middle.
  • Having a family history of diabetes
  • Having given birth to a baby that weighed over 4kg at birth, or have had gestational diabetes during pregnancy
  • Having high cholesterol or other fats in the blood
  • Having high blood pressure or heart disease


  • Risks Associated with Diabetes

Diabetes complications are serious and include: – heart disease, stroke, blindness, amputations and kidney failure.


  • Avoiding Diabetes

Diabetes can be avoided through adoption of a healthy lifestyle including:

  • Eating unrefined or high fibre carbohydrates
  • Cutting down sugar intake
  • Cutting down refined foods
  • Drinking water regularly
  • Not being overweight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Working Out Regularly


SAMWUMED Chronic Disease Benefits

Diabetes is one of the chronic diseases supported by SAMWUMED. Members have to register to be able to activate their benefits.  Your treating doctor will need to call SAMWUMED’s Managed Care Provider, Medscheme on: 0860 33 33 87 to register your Chronic Medication.