Walk the talk on diabetes

HARARE - While President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF government must rightly take the blame for the current economic rot prevailing in the country, there are times when they appreciate the need to provide a spark in the lives of long-suffering Zimbabweans.

But the problem is they rarely give impoverished and angry citizens anything to cheer about.

It was refreshing this week to hear Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa saying government was mulling providing diabetic patients with free medication.

Diabetes, particularly sugar diabetes is a chronic disease affecting millions of people in the world, including Zimbabweans. The International Diabetes Federation Association says Zimbabwe recorded 209 800 cases of diabetes last year alone.

This is quite staggering!

Those living with diabetes in Zimbabwe bear the brunt of the collapsing health services sector which has seen government hospitals running out of essential drugs — including for diabetics patients.

Whenever treatment is available it is often at private hospitals where drugs are priced out of reach for many people.

Most diabetic patients across the country are struggling to access drugs such as metformin, glibenclamide and insulin injections and the treatment is costly, running into hundreds of dollars per month.

It costs $302 per month to have proper administration and those that are admitted into hospital on average need to cough up $1 400 and this is at government hospitals which have the lowest costs.

Compounding problems further, is the fact that blood sugar-testing equipment used at most public hospitals, is obsolete.

As Mnangagwa noted, diabetes is a silent killer, yet many people have died due to the prevailing harsh economic conditions which affect their diet and prevent them from accessing affordable healthcare.

“As government, we are on a drive to ensure that people living with diabetes can access medication for free, just like other chronic infections such as HIV and Aids,” Mnangagwa said.

It is our hope that this was one of many gimmicks by government officials — including Mugabe to appear to hit the right notes with suffering masses but indicating the other way once the business end of things needs action.

We truly hope that Mnangagwa and company will walk the talk on diabetic patients and provide solutions that do not leave a sour taste  in as far as mitigating the plight of diabetic patients is concerned.

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