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Monday, 13 October 2008

CPUT researchers lead study on prevalence of diabetes in local communities


Researchers based in the Health and Wellness Sciences Faculty at CPUT, in collaboration with the University of Stellenbosch, are leading research on the prevalence of diabetes and the associated cardiovascular risks factors.

The prevalence of diabetes in South Africa, especially in the Western Cape , is not well documented, and as a result there is no recent data available on the prevalence of diabetes in this province.

But with the research being conducted by CPUT postgraduate students and staff, this gap of information in the health sector is being addressed.

Shafick Hassan, head of the Radiography and Nursing Department who is heading up the research team said: “The last prevalence study on diabetes was conducted in Mamre in the 1980’s.”

With researchers focusing on the Bellville South community in the Northern Suburbs, findings have already revealed a sharp increase in the prevalence of diabetes, compared to what was reported more than a decade ago.

The researchers spent several months collecting blood samples to measure glucose and cholesterol levels and conducted blood pressure tests on individuals aged between 35 and 65.

Approximately 1000 people had been tested.

“To date we have found the prevalence of diabetes in that community to be much higher than anticipated. Preliminary results indicate a diabetic prevalence of 26.3%,” said Hassan.

The results of the study may also indicate a broader health problem in the population of the Western Cape , which could severely impact on the limited health resources in province.

Research has proved that diabetes is a contributing factor to various health problems, including eye problems, kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.

Studies have also linked the rising prevalence of type 2 diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance ( IGT ) to the global epidemic of obesity and lifestyle changes associated primarily with urbanization.

Hassan said the findings of this study will provide vital information, which will be useful for national and provincial health planners when planning intervention strategies for conditions related to diabetes and future health services needs.

More importantly, he said information on this study must be disseminated appropriately.

Currently the lead researchers, which include CPUT’s Dr Tandi Matsha and Stellenbosch University Professor Rajiv Erasmus, are discussing the findings with stakeholders in the health sector.

The researchers, who are linked to the Oxidative Stress Research Group, which is based in the Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences, are also in the process of writing up a number of journal articles on this study.

They had also presented data on the study at several conferences.

Hassan said the research is ongoing and that plans are in place to extend the study to other communities in the Western Cape .

By Candes Keating, Marketing and Communication Department

Photograph: Dr Tandi Matsha, Biomedical Science Dtech student Dinie Hon and head of the Radiography and Nursing Department Shafick Hassan, who are involved in the prevalence of diabetes study.

Written by CPUT News