The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned on World Diabetes Day, which took place yesterday, that diabetes is now a global epidemic killing over 5 million people every year. Such a death toll has gotten the World Health Organisation in collaboration with the International Diabetes Federation to develop a campaign on “Healthy Living and Diabetes” in 2016 in order to highlight the need for diabetes prevention.
The continent of Africa is currently facing an explosion of Type 2 diabetes, and this, according to senior adviser for the NGO Project Hope Paul Madden, is due to a change in lifestyle.
Since the Africa Rising discourse began, Africa has seen a culture of consumerism developing more and more with the implosion of shopping malls, complete with fast food outlets frequented by the growing middle class.
The pan African magazine New African put it eloquently when it wrote, “Lifestyle diseases…are now beginning to take their toll in Africa…. Africa’s recent economic growth has created an emerging middle class that has adopted many of the West’s most damaging lifestyle choices…. A sedentary lifestyle has been encouraged with wider car ownership and leisure hours spent watching computer screens and TVs…. Fast-food chain outlets are proliferating and are popular with office workers grabbing a quick lunchtime meal. Many will, on their way home from work, also buy a takeaway for their evening meal in front of the TV, forsaking traditional African diets that tend to be more nutritionally balanced.”
A real shame on the part of Africa not seeing what is good about it, seeing that a healthy report showed findings only last month stating that a rural African diet was a much healthier diet.
Incidentally, diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases and high blood pressure known as the “rich man’s disease” are poverty diseases in the western world Africa the continent is seeking to emulate at all cost, even at the cost of its health.
Lately however, prominent voices have been rising to question the Africa Rising narrative, which seems to place a great emphasis on consumerism.
A statement issued by WHO South-East Asia region yesterday advocated the need “to work collaboratively with governments, civil society, private sectors, schools, workplaces, media and local partners. We all have a role to play to ensure healthier environment for a healthy living. However, the key role is of an individual to make lifelong healthy choices for a healthier future.”
Therefore, one hopes that 2016 will prove the year for mentality change if the trend for lifestyle diseases Africa is engaged in is to be reversed.