Diabetes is not a Death Sentence


By Mzukona Mantshontsho

“We must act on Diabetes now and Diabetes is not a Death Sentence”. These were the encouraging words from South Africa’s First Lady and Diabetes Ambassador Bongi Ngema-Zuma at the launch of the three Rotary Family Health Days (RFHDs) in Zandspruit Informal Settlement, north of Johannesburg. 

“It is very encouraging to see that when NGO’s send proposals to launch programmes like the RFHDs, our health minister welcomes, applauds and supports those programmes,” said First-Lady Ngema-Zuma. Before 1994 and after, we blamed everyone and governments for anything that was not going well in our lives, I am here to say to everyone present here, we have no one to blame for diseases, sadly,” she added.   

‘Nitjele abanye baye bayohlolwa’ – loosely translated to – tell others to come here and get tested. There is really no excuse for us as a society to be ignorant about our health. My vision at the Bongi Ngema-Zuma (BNZ) Foundation which was established in 2010 is to see a South Africa where diabetes seizes to be a death sentence and people get tested and know their health issues”.

“BNZ Foundation was founded because my mother lived with diabetes for over 20 years. If my mother fought and lived with diabetes for that long, so can all of us as a country, if we know about the disease, know the symptoms and adopt healthy lifestyles, we will live longer and diabetes will no longer be a death sentence. It is also disturbing that in a small town in the Free State with a population of around 160,000 people in 2011, 13,000 people died. For me, that number is too high,” she added.

“Statistics from the International Diabetes Federation have said there are around 370 million people with Diabetes in the World. In South Africa, we have between 4-6 million people with diabetes and 50% of those are not even aware that they living with diabetes,” said the first-lady. 

“You don’t have to be educated and sophisticated to fight diseases. Vegetable gardens will do the trick for our small communities. Let’s eat more greens, let’s have less of porridge with our daily meals. Let us also exercise regularly,” concluded first-lady Ngema-Zuma.

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