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Diabetes in Rwanda

Diabetes is a major challenge for health and development in the 21st century. This chronic and incurable disease is largely preventable but remains responsible for millions of deaths annually and many more life-threatening complications. No country, rich or poor, is immune to the epidemic.

According to the Diabetes Atlas the prevalence of diabetes in Rwanda is about 3.16% of the population with 1,918 diabetes related deaths per year.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus (DM), commonly referred to as diabetes, is caused when either the pancreas is not producing enough insulin or the cells of the body are not responding properly to the insulin produced.

There are three main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 results from the pancreas’ failure to produce enough insulin, the cause is unknown.
  • Type 2 is a condition in which cells fail to respond to insulin properly or the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. The primary causes are excessive body weight and not enough exercise.
  • The third type is gestational diabetes and occurs when pregnant women without a previous history of diabetes develop high blood sugar levels.

Common symptoms of diabetes?

  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss – even though you are eating more (Type 1)

It is important to be tested for diabetes if you are at risk. If left untreated or improperly managed, diabetes can result in a variety of complications, including heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, problems with erection (impotence) and amputation.