Diabetes Blueprint for Africa - The Global Diabetes Compact: A Comprehensive Initiative to Address Diabetes in Africa

November 2, 2023
10-minute read

This article examines the multifaceted challengesposed by diabetes, a global epidemic affecting over 420 million people worldwide,with a specific focus on its profound impact in Africa. The article evaluatesthe significance of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Global DiabetesCompact’s Diabetes Blueprint for Africa and its relevance to the uniquechallenges faced by African nations. From understanding diabetes and itscomplications to implementing targeted strategies, this article navigates thescientific landscape, emphasizing the urgent need for comprehensive and equitablediabetes care in the African region.

Keywords: Diabetes, Global Diabetes Compact, WHO,Africa, insulin, health systems, NCDs, pandemic, primary health care,prevention, treatment, equity.


Diabetes, a chronicdisease affecting the body's insulin regulation, poses a significant threat toglobal health. Launched in response to the escalating diabetes epidemic, theWorld Health Organization's (WHO) Global Diabetes Compact provides a comprehensiveframework for addressing this challenge. This article explores the specificimplications of the Global Diabetes Compact in the African context, where theconvergence of factors amplifies the urgency of effective diabetes management.

Understanding Diabetes: A Global Epidemic

Diabetes,characterized by inadequate insulin production or inefficient insulinutilization, has witnessed a fourfold increase in prevalence since 1980. Thissurge, affecting 6% of the global population, presents a formidable obstacle toachieving UN Sustainable Development Goal target 3.4. The intricate interplayof factors such as race, ethnicity, age, and socio-economic conditionsexacerbates the diabetes burden, particularly in Africa.

The Failings of Global Health System

Despite thecentury-old discovery of insulin, access to essential diabetes care remains achallenge worldwide. In Africa, the situation is further complicated by a lackof diagnosis, insufficient health infrastructure, and financial situation. Theprevalence of diabetes in specific populations, coupled with pervasive stigma,underscores the need for tailored approaches and heightened awareness.

The Global Diabetes Compact: A Beacon of Hope

In response to theescalating diabetes crisis, WHO's Global Diabetes Compact emerged as a crucialinitiative. Launched on the centenary of insulin's discovery, the compactenvisions a world where the risk of diabetes is reduced, and equitable accessto quality treatment is assured. This section delves into the eight key asks ofthe compact, emphasizing their relevance to the African region and the urgentneed for collaborative action.

Diabetesin Africa: A Threefold Challenge

The article shiftsits focus to the African continent, where diabetes presents a unique threefoldchallenge. High projected new cases, a substantial number of undiagnosedindividuals, and inadequate investment in diabetes care underscore the urgencyof targeted interventions. Insights from healthcare professionals in Senegalelucidate the systemic shortcomings in health systems designed for acutediseases, necessitating a paradigm shift.

The Diabetes Blueprint for Africa

WHO's Regional Officefor Africa responds to the African diabetes challenge by developing theDiabetes Blueprint for Africa under the Global Diabetes Compact framework. Thisstrategic initiative, tailored to regional needs, aims to strengthen preventionand management efforts. The article explores the collaborative efforts ofexperts and WHO Afro in identifying and addressing gaps in diabetes controlprograms, with a focus on post-COVID-19 recovery.

Progress and Challenges: A Year in Review

As the GlobalDiabetes Compact completed its first year in April 2022, a critical examinationof its impact unfolds. The article discusses the achievements, such as thehistoric World Health Assembly Resolution, the establishment of the TechnicalAdvisory Group on Diabetes, and the Global Diabetes Compact Forum. It alsoreflects on challenges faced, including access to insulin, weak health systems,and the ongoing disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Making a Difference at the Country Level

Examining diabetesinitiatives at the country level, the article highlights diverse efforts inSlovenia, South-East Asia, and Africa. The WHO Package of EssentialNoncommunicable Disease Interventions (PEN) toolkit, HEARTS packageimplementation, and insulin donations showcase collaborative endeavors tointegrate diabetes care into primary health settings and address regionalchallenges.

Conclusion and Future Directions

In conclusion, thearticle underscores the critical importance of the Global Diabetes Compact inaddressing the complex web of challenges posed by diabetes, particularly inAfrica. It emphasizes the need for sustained efforts, collaborativepartnerships, and innovative strategies to combat the diabetes epidemic andachieve tangible progress in the coming years. The urgency of thisendeavor is paramount, given the projected increase in diabetes cases and theprofound impact on individuals, communities, and health systems in Africa.