By Dylan Murambgi
Harare, November 22, 2016 – THE Zimbabwe Diabetics Association (ZDA) has called on the government to afford diabetic patients free treatment as was the case with other chronic ailments in the country.
This comes amid revelations up to 1.4 million Zimbabweans were diabetic.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a walkathon held in the capital to raise awareness on diabetes, ZDA President John Chamunorwa said the association was already in negotiations with the government over the matter.
“We are encouraging the government to give diabetics treatment for free also like any other chronic disease; it’s a very important thing that we must do for diabetics.
“The minister (of health) knows; if you check last time the deputy minister actually said they are trying but things are very difficult. But they are going to try now and the government is encouraging us to continue negotiating,” he said.
Chamunorwa said they were also in negotiations with local companies that manufactured diabetes drugs to reduce their prices and make them affordable to the majority of diabetics.
Two of the companies, he said, had already agreed to the reduction of the prices, adding they were getting positive responses from the other companies.
“We are also trying to negotiate with particular places like the gyms that the prices come down and also asking that hotels reduce prices of food that diabetics eat and even visiting doctors must reduce their fees so that diabetics can also benefit,” he said.
Chamunorwa said 90 percent of the people who were diabetic were not aware of their condition.
“The last statistics we had showed that 10 percent of Zimbabweans were diabetic and that is about 1.4 million people,” Chamunorwa said.
“Half the people of that population don’t know that they are diabetic. These are what we call transient diabetics or they are really diabetics, they have just not been tested.”
He also revealed that the Lions Club of Harare the Phoenix were assisting the association to set up a diabetes centre at Harare Central hospital.
“I know they are in the process of setting up a diabetes centre at Harare hospital; its’ a big project that they have promised us and we are working with them to achieve that,” he said.
Chamunorwa said they would need up to $150 000 to set up the diabetics centre, adding it had to be equipped with machines for testing sugar levels, amount of fat, weight, heart conditions and others.
He said the centre would help thousands of people, including the patients as well as the medical staff who would also get training on handling diabetes cases.
“Harare hospital is the central referral hospital for the whole of Zimbabwe plus Parirenyatwa, so it means all diabetic complications, teachings will be done there. We expect even our patients to benefit, our doctors to benefit, our nurses to benefit and our students to benefit from it as well,” he said.
Lions Club of Harare Phoenix Region 2 chairperson, John Mwinjilo, said they were still at the planning stage but said they would ensure the diabetes centre became a dream come true for the ZDA.
“As Lions Club, we are actively assisting them and ensuring that their dream comes true. They need the superstructure, that is the place where everything will be housed and secondly we will require the equipment that goes into the structure and the personnel that will work in the hospital,” he said.
He said there were three other such centres in the country but the Harare hospital project was the first one they were supporting as the Lions Club of Harare the Phoenix.