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Programme aims to build capacity in diabetes management
  • Programme aims to build capacity in diabetes management

Copyright: Flickr/PAHO/WHO

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  • Africa’s diabetes cases could rise from 19 million to 41.5 million by 2035

  • A project aims to build capacity of some African nations to control the disease

  • An expert says it should also focus on rural, underserved communities

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The roll-out was announced during the launch of the programme in Mozambique last month (5 February).

In Kenya, the Merck Capacity Advancement Program is a collaboration between Merck Germany a pharmaceutical company the University of Nairobi and Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI).

The programme, which is building the capacity to help manage the rising cases of diabetes, is also set to be rolled out at a date to be determined, according to a statement from Merck Germany. Its target is to train 9,000 medical personnel by 2018.

Diabetes cases in Africa will increase from the current number of 19 million to 41.5 million by 2035, according to the International Diabetes Federation. The WHO adds that diabetes results in more than 4.8 million deaths a year globally.

Kenya has 1.6 million people with diabetes, says a statement from Merck Germany, adding that programme which is set to run for the next five years, will offer training to180 medical students in the country.

Rasha Kelej, Merck programme director for Global Strategy Realization Office, United Arab Emirates, tells SciDev.Net: The programme will be implemented across Africa in partnership with ministries of health, health sciences universities and local patients diabetes associations.

She adds: This will be achieved [through] public awareness and supporting the health care system on ways to prevent, diagnose and manage diabetes effectively.

Merck is engaging relevant local interest groups across Sub-Saharan Africa toinform its approach to the programme, including identifying the learning and capacity gaps, according to Kelej.

The engagements, Kalei tells SciDev.Net, will also help the partners create long-term, strategic, partnerships based on country-specific strategies integrated with Mercks market development policy.
The programme, she adds, will focus on research and development and diabetes education for undergraduates in African universities and physicians and pharmacists in rural areas.

It will also create disease community awareness and online monitoring of the safety of diabetes drugs.

Lydia Kaduka, a senior research officer at KEMRI, commends Merck Germanys efforts, but says there a is need to target health personnel in rural areas and consider both the short-term and long-term goals.

This is because the local people visit them regularly for easy access to medical services, hence [their] empowerment will be a plus, says Kaduka.

Oseni Mohammed-Toha, an administrator of the Federation of African Medical Students Association and a medical student at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, says that the programme is a most welcome move because the disease is a major burden in Africa with serious economic consequences.

Empowering those in the medical profession with skills to monitor and manage diabetes would go a long way in helping address it, Mohammed-Toha says.

This article has been produced by SciDev.Nets Sub-Saharan Africa desk.

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