An epidemiological shift will from 2030 see diabetes take over from HIV and AIDS as the leading cause of death in Zimbabwe.

This was the message from health experts during commemorations to mark World Diabetes Day held in Kariba today.

The prevalence rate of diabetes in Zimbabwe according to a 2005 survey stands at 10 percent but health officials estimate the rate has since shot up and another survey to determine the exact extent of the condition is set for next year.

It is predicted that the condition, which affects over 425 million people worldwide, presents a figure much higher than the number of people living with HIV and AIDS and is feared to become the worst epidemic.

The Deputy Director of Non-Communicable Diseases, Dr Justice Mudavanhu said the condition predisposes those diabetic to other diseases such as hypertension, heart conditions, kidney failure and blindness.

Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Diabetes Association, David Leboho blamed society’s careless eating habits and lifestyles.

The condition is now referred to as a silent killer because the signs are not always dramatic, with some people living unaware that they have the disease.

43-year-old, Mrs Virginia Maguma who has been living with the condition for 14 years is a survivor whose fight against diabetes is being won through adopting a healthy life­style and taking medication consistently.

“This insulin has helped me a lot and I am now able to live a better life. A healthy diet is a secret to a longer life for anyone living with the condition,” she said.

Mr Andrew Bushu of Glen Norah had to forego some luxuries in his life to fight diabetes.

“I used to drink alcohol and eat lots of meat especially braai but I have since left a lot of such things. Vegetables and fruits now form the bulk of my diet,” he said.

Dr Saranna Ameer, a Specialist Physician is urging people to get tested for diabetes regularly.

“A person should always be on the lookout and get tested at least once every year. Diabetes if left untreated, can lead to severe complications such as heart disease, stroke, sight damage and kidney failure,” he said.

Approximately 75 000 Zimbabweans are dying from diabetes mellitus complications every year and according to International Diabetes Federation, the number of diabetic patients is likely to double by 2030 due to lack of awareness and poor eating habits.