DIABETES: AFRICA’S POST-COVID CRISIS?
Lack of holistic healthcare is hindering Africa’s potential, warns Pascal Mukadi of Medical Fund Management Pty. Ltd.
With Covid-19 flaring across Africa, many of the continent’s other health crises have fallen below the public’s radar. Among them is a deadly, silent killer.
Diabetes is on the rampage across Africa. A disease once associated with richer, Western nations – it is now becoming widespread here, with rates soaring to historic levels. Many public health experts are now citing it as an epidemic.
According to epidemiologists – in the near future, the economic & health toll from diabetes in Africa will exceed those of HIV/AIDS.
In the year 2000, approximately 7.1 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were suffering from diabetes mellitus. Now, according to the International Diabetes Federation, more than 16 million people in the region are living with the disease. Africa now has the greatest number of people living with undiagnosed diabetes – with projections showing that the continent will experience the world’s greatest rise in confirmed cases over the next decade.
Not only are African bodies being ravaged by the disease – but African economies as well. In 2015 alone, the total estimated cost of diabetes was US 19.45 billion or 1.2% of Africa’s GDP. Over 55% of this was in direct medical costs, with total out-of-pocket expenses exceeding the total health budgets of many countries.
Pascal Mukadi, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, believes that stemming the crisis will require African governments to change their healthcare mindset.
“Overwhelmingly, African health departments approach diabetes – and disease in general – with a lopsided view of treatment” says Mukadi. “They rely almost exclusively on medicines & surgery to manage these conditions, without emphasizing the need for holistic wellness solutions which can actually prevent many of these diseases.”
Mukadi is Executive Chairman of Medical Fund Management (MFM), which manages healthcare funds for individuals, governments & organizations across Africa. Through its various divisions, it delivers a range of healthcare, wellness & lifestyle services throughout the continent.
Mukadi warns that Africa is sitting on a time bomb. Lifestyle diseases are becoming endemic on the continent, he says, threatening to derail the continent’s future economic growth & stability. If Africa is to turn the tide, holistic wellness initiatives will need to be integrated in society at all levels.
“Throughout the continent, we need to improve not only how we treat our bodies through nutrition & exercise, but how we manage & maintain the health of our minds” says Mukadi, a fitness enthusiast. “A mind/body approach is crucial to taking African healthcare forward.”
To drive this ethos, Mukadi has added an integrated wellness division to the MFM group. EcoFitness. A digital health & wellness platform, EcoFitness will provide a range of services aimed at boosting the mental & physical wellbeing of Africans throughout the continent.
These include 24-hour access to health, nutrition & wellness coaching as well as interactive sessions on meditation, yoga & lifestyle diagnostics. Mukadi plans to launch the service during the first quarter of 2021.
“Ultimately, turning the tide on diseases like diabetes will require that we manage our lives better as individuals” advises Mukadi. “As more of us learn to manage ourselves from within, we’ll then manifest the vitality & power needed to eradicate this disease from our continent.”
“This is what we’re working towards as MFM.”