South Africa’s First Ever Diabetes Summit to Take Place in November



South Africa needs an urgent, coordinated response to the country’s exploding diabetes crisis

  • SA’s inaugural Diabetes Summit set to tackle diabetes challenges


Diabetes is the number one killer of women in South Africa, and the second leading cause of death in men, according to Stats SA. One in two people with diabetes are undiagnosed, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF, 2019). Two in three people in SA are at risk of prediabetes, according to the SA Demographic and Health Survey.


“We are all affected by this growing epidemic,” explains Bridget McNulty, chairperson of the Diabetes Alliance. “Every person in South Africa knows someone or has a family member living with diabetes. Undiagnosed, untreated and uncontrolled diabetes is leading to serious complications… These impact people’s daily quality of life and burden the public and private healthcare sector. People with diabetes have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and many have died.”


To address the diabetes crisis in SA and build a coordinated response, the Diabetes Alliance and the University of Pretoria Diabetes Research Centre (UP DRC), are presenting SA’s first ever inaugural South African Diabetes Summit on Wednesday 10th November 2021, ahead of World Diabetes Day on 14 November.


“This November, instead of just telling people about diabetes in South Africa, we’ve invited all those living with and working with diabetes to join us in co-creating SA’s first Diabetes Charter. It will be launched at the Summit,” says McNulty.


“Do South Africans really need another Summit? Yes – especially one about diabetes and especially in the wake of COVID-19, which was devastating for people with diabetes,” she says.


“We have decided to act and confront the diabetes tsunami so that South Africa is never again found unprepared when facing a health challenge similar to the COVID-19 pandemic,” explains Dr Patrick Ngassa Piotie from UP DRC. “We share the International Diabetes Federation call for action under the #IfNotNowWhen.”


The Diabetes Alliance includes organisations of people living with diabetes, research and tertiary institutions, healthcare providers, professional associations, pharmaceutical companies and NPOs, all of whom are committed to improving the diabetes response in South Africa.


The South African Diabetes Summit will take stock of the current diabetes situation and produce a Diabetes Charter that will allow all interested parties to ‘build back better’ in terms of the South African response to the diabetes epidemic.


Ahead of the Summit, collaborative work streams are working together to outline evidence-led challenges and propose solutions in five themes, based on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global Diabetes Compact. Each theme tackles a different aspect of the diabetes problem in South Africa, from awareness and prevention to education, management and access to care, surveillance (data), innovation and research.


The Diabetes Summit is also an opportunity to officially introduce the University of Pretoria Diabetes Research Centre as an advocate for sustainable, evidence-based and person-centered care for people living with diabetes in South Africa. The Centre will endeavour to improve the lives of South Africans living with diabetes through research and innovation.

Everyone is welcome to attend the Diabetes Summit, which will be held on Wednesday 10th November from 9am to 1pm, online. Please register, and find out more, here: