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African press review 2 December 2016

Some light at the end of the tunnel for those at risk from diabetes. "Funny money" and skewed priorities in Zimbabwe. And, spending tax payers' money in South Africa.


We start in Kenya - where health issues loom large on the opinion pages of the Nation.

Under the heartening headline "We can stop the epidemic of diabetes" - the paper reminds readers that the life threatening complaint is not confined to fatties in the world's wealthy countries.

In fact - three-quarters of those with diabetes live in low and middle-income countries.

In Kenya, around 1.8 million people are known to have diabetes, while a further 1.5 million are believed to have the disease but have not been diagnosed.

The author of the piece - Subiri Obwogo, who works for an international NGO, opens with the puzzle of his maternal aunt who died eight years ago after struggling with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure for over a decade.

Her lifestyle did not strike him as that of a person who could contract the disease.

She lived in a rural area and lived an active life.

Her diet consisted mainly of brown ugali - that's maize flour - fish, vegetables, and tea with milk and sugar.

She also never smoked cigarettes or drank alcohol.

But, help is at hand to understand why his aunt developed the disease, Obwogo tells us.

There is a simple, self-administered questionnaire that looks at eight risk factors for developing the disease.

These include age, body mass index, waist size, physical activity levels, frequency of consuming fruits and vegetables, use of anti-hypertensive medications, history of high blood glucose and family history.

He found that all these factors contributed to his aunt’s elevated risk.

The good news, the writer tells us, is that if you fill out this questionnaire and find that your risk is high all is not lost.

It can be prevented or even reversed with simple lifestyle changes such as being more physically active, eating a healthy diet, and losing weight.

This may be a struggle for some, but the possibility of an early warning is undoubtedly welcome news.


In Zimbabwe the focus is on money, or funny money as critics of the recently issued "bond notes" would have it.

An editorial in the government owned Herald pleads "Let's give bond notes a chance."

Initial fears are understandable, the paper says, given the trauma of hyper-inflation in the noughties, which left the Zimbabwe dollar not worth the paper it was printed on.

However, "We find it odd that there's a constituency opposed to the notes," the Herald says.


The privately owned daily Newsday offers its thoughts on the bigger picture asking "Has Zim become an afterthought to Mugabe?"

"President Robert Mugabe was due to address the nation yesterday," the paper reminds readers, "But he instead chose to fly halfway around the world for the funeral of the late former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

No doubt, Castro was a colossus and African leaders were likely to stampede to honour him.

Mugabe - fond traveller that he is - was surely not going to miss out."

But, says Newsday, this reveals Mugabe’s priorities and running Zimbabwe and turning its fortunes around does not seem to top his list.

"Maybe Mugabe does not realise it, but Zimbabwe is broken and needs fixing," the paper laments.


Business Day in South Africa also has questions about its own President's jolly to Havana.

President Jacob Zuma used a chartered aircraft to attend the memorial service of Fidel Castro in Cuba while his presidential jet appeared to be "fully functional", the paper reports.

"On Tuesday morning‚ the president flew to Cuba for Fidel Castro’s memorial service in a luxurious Gulfstream 550 that was reportedly chartered from an Angolan Company‚" opposition Democratic Alliance MP - Kobus Marais - told Business Day.

"The chartering of the plane from Bestfly is not only in contravention of clear government directives‚ it is also costing taxpayers millions," the MP said.

Zuma's costing taxpayers millions is something with which South Africans are already familiar.




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