Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Senior Health Reporter
BULAWAYO Province recorded a rise in new hypertension and diabetes cases in 2020 and 2021, a development which health experts say could be closely linked to effects of Covid-19.
Monthly statistics gathered from 30 Bulawayo health institutions show that in 2020, a total of 1 019 new hypertension cases were recorded and the figure went up by 37,5 percent in 2021.
New diabetes cases went up from 5 383 in 2020 to 6 873 in 2021.
Diabetes is a prevalent chronic disease in Zimbabwe that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar.
People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which is a major cause of death and disability, and a barrier to sustainable development.
According to the World Health Organisation, diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.
Hypertension is the second most prevalent chronic disease in the country, affecting about 39 percent of the population.
Defined as a condition in which the force of blood against the artery walls is too high, hypertension can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
It has no symptoms and overtime if untreated, it can cause health conditions such as heart disease or a stroke.
People living in urban areas are at higher risk of developing hypertension based on their usually sedentary lifestyles.
Eating a healthier diet with less salt, exercising regularly and taking medication can help lower blood pressure and these lifestyle-related behaviours have proven to be effective in preventing and treating hypertension.
The Bulawayo City Council Health Services Department recorded these non-communicable diseases from clinics in Cowdray Park, Mpopoma, Emakhandeni, Entumbane, Luveve, Magwegwe, Mzilikazi, Njube, Nketa, Pelandaba and Tshabalala.
Figures also include patients that were seen at Hillside Teachers’ College Clinic, Ingutsheni Central Hospital, Mpilo Central Hospital, United Bulawayo Hospitals, Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital, National University of Science and Technology Clinic and Princess Margaret Clinic.
Other institutions are Khami Road Clinic, Maqhawe Clinic, Nkulumane Clinic, Northen Suburbs Clinic, NRZ Clinic, Pumula Clinic, ZNA Brady Barracks Clinic, ZPS Bulawayo Prison Clinic, ZRP Ross Camp Clinic and Thembiso Home Centre Clinic.
BCC corporate communications manager Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said: “In 2020 a total of 1 019 new hypertension cases were recorded in Bulawayo from all 30 health institutions and the highest figure was recorded in the month of July where 132 were put on hypertensive medication for the first time.
In 2021, the figure went up to 1 402, while monthly figures started increasing in April right up to September. September had the highest figures of 211 compared to 97 recorded in August 2021.”
By the end of last year, 26 200 people were diagnosed with hypertension in the 30 Bulawayo health institutions.
Mrs Mpofu said 333 new diabetes cases were recorded at the health institutions in 2020 and the figure rose to 457 in 2021.
“By the end of 2021, we had a total of 6 873 people on diabetes medication recorded in all our 30 health institutions,” she said.
BCC director of health services Dr Edwin Sibanda said both diseases can be addressed by deliberate lifestyle changes.
“Diabetes is a lifestyle condition and may run in families therefore we encourage frequent checks, especially for those whose close relatives are affected. Both diseases require that residents eat balanced meals and exercise so that they are not at risk,” he said.
Mpilo acting chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said despite frequent closure of the outpatient department due to Covid-19 restrictions, the global pandemic had contributed to the new diabetes and hypertension cases.
“The truth is that when Covid-19 broke out, it affected different organs, which has left many of our people at risk hence the increase. People have recovered from Covid-19, yes, but we need to remind them that this virus can mess with other organs besides lungs,” said Prof Ngwenya.
“It can remain in the blood stream and affect blood sugar levels and we are noting that some patients are presenting with kidney and pancreas problems, which often results in a surge of new hypertension and diabetes cases. We still call on people to adhere to guidelines so that they are not only protected from Covid-19, but other deadly diseases which may emerge as a result of coronavirus infections.” – @thamamoe.
Article Source: The Chronicle