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Carleton College

Publication Date

Fall 2006

Program Name

South Africa: Community Health


The objective of this study was to learn about the resources available to a diabetic and the actual ability of diabetics to access these resources. I found that two ideal paradigms of care were consistently mentioned by experts in KwaZulu Natal and at the World Diabetes Congress (WDC), the international conference on diabetes that I attended in Cape Town. The first is self-management of the disease and a patient centered approach to care. The second is a collaborative team approach to treating diabetics which involves a number of experts besides a physician. These two concepts are connected in that a collaborative team of healthcare professionals is more likely to empower a patient to manage his or her condition. I examined data from five experts who work in KwaZulu Natal to find out about the resources that should be available to provincial system patients and the realities about access to care. Additionally, I spoke with three informants from the Cato Manor township in Durban to find out what their experience with care was when they were first diagnosed and what it is now. I found that the ideal approaches to care advocated by the experts were representative of the ideal paradigms being presented at the WDC. I also found that the experience of my Cato Manor informants was profoundly negative and did not even begin to approach these ideal models of care. My conclusions are that the state of diabetes care in South Africa has potential – the personnel is available to help more people than are currently being helped. The overall picture is somewhat bleak in that there does not seem to be any progress to advocate for more prevention or care for diabetics so it seems unlikely these resources will be better organized or more accessible in the near future. There is also no indication that the government is willing to take any action to expand diabetes care or that the ever increasing diabetes burden in South Africa is a major health concern at the current time.


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