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Health And Welfare

Diabetes data shows room for growth

The City of Cape Town’s Health Department has seen an increase in the number of people older than 40 years who visit facilities for diabetes screening. However, there was a downturn in screening for those in the age group 18-39. No surprise then that the number of persons diagnosed also declined. During National Diabetes Month, City Health is encouraging residents to make sure they don’t become a statistic. 

 November is National Diabetes Month, while 14 November is World Diabetes Day.

South Africa has, in the last year, adopted a robust strategy for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, including the following targets by 2027:


·       90% of people over the age of 18 will know whether or not they have raised blood sugar or blood pressure

·       60% of people over the age of 18 who have raised blood sugar or blood pressure will be on treatment

·       50% of people over the age of 18 who are on treatment for raised blood sugar or blood pressure will be controlled


‘These targets make it clear that all adults need to be alert to the risk of diseases like hypertension and diabetes. In recent years, it’s become apparent that more young people are being affected, so the notion that these are illnesses for older persons has been comprehensively squashed. And, while City clinics have seen a gradual increase in screening for diabetes among younger age groups, there was a dip in the last financial year – one that we can ill afford. So I appeal to our under 40’s to get in line once more. The earlier a health condition is detected, the sooner you can start treatment and make the required lifestyle changes to improve your health outlook,’ said Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Patricia Van der Ross.


The City of Cape Town has embraced the national targets, and is currently partnered with WiredUp and running pilot programmes at several clinics in order to increase the capacity and improve the diabetes care being provided.


For the 2022/23 financial year, City clinics screened  211 612 individuals for diabetes, down from 218 432 the previous year.


Individuals screened for diabetes:





% diff

18 – 39

148 520

130 395



69 912

81 217







In addition, the diagnosis of diabetes across the two groups dropped by 12%.




A fingerprick blood sugar test together with a urinary dipstick can be done at all City Health Community Day Centres, free of charge, and results are available on the same day.


A fasting blood sugar test can be organised for confirmation if needed. If you screen positive for diabetes, you will also be screened for associated conditions such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular risk factors at the same visit.


Uncontrolled or undiagnosed diabetes can cause serious complications

·       Visual problems, including blindness

·       Kidney disease

·       Cardiovascular disease

·       Cerebrovascular disease

·       Non-healing foot ulcers often ending in amputation

·       And death


Common diabetes symptoms include

·       Unusual fatigue

·       Increased thirst

·       Increased urination

·       Blurred vision

·       Pins and needles or altered sensation hands and feet

·       Recurrent opportunistic infections

·       Delayed healing for small wounds/cuts


Treatment can consist of tablets, insulin, or a combination of both, and may include tablets for primary or secondary prevention depending on your other risk factors.


Early and aggressive control of diabetes has been proven to improve outcomes.


Diet and lifestyle changes are an important part of care and play a role in prevention.


For more information visit your nearest clinic.


Alternatively visit your nearest City library, for free access to resources such as books and SmartCape WiFi.

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