n South African Medical Journal - Distribution, incidence, prevalence and default of patients with diabetes mellitus accessing public healthcare in the 11 districts of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa : research




The global increase in the prevalence of diabetes mellitus is most marked in African countries. The District Health Information System (DHIS) is the primary data collection system of the Department of Health in KwaZulu-Natal Province (KZN), South Africa. Data are routinely collected at all public healthcare facilities in the province and are aggregated per facility.

To investigate the distribution, incidence and prevalence of diabetes in the public healthcare sector of KZN.
Data collected by the DHIS for all patients with diabetes in KZN from 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2014 inclusive were analysed. Additional open-source databases were accessed to enable further exploration of the data collected.
The study showed that the majority (38.7%) of patients with diabetes on the public sector register were from the district of eThekwini. Positive correlations were found between the prevalence of diabetes, the mortality rate and the number of defaulters (patients with diabetes who did not return for regular treatment).
Provincial estimates of the prevalence of diabetes in this study were higher than the known national prevalence. This may be due to the large proportion of Indians in KZN, who have a genetic predisposition to diabetes mellitus. However, allowance must be made for possible inaccurate data collection at source with miscounting of individuals. This study supports the global trend of an association between diabetes and urbanisation and highlights the need for regular diabetes screening and education, particularly in the public healthcare domain.


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