Africa is set to be hit by a 24 percent increase in diseases such as diabetes within three years as the developing world faces a sharp rise in non-contagious illness, South Africa's health minister warned on Thursday.
"If critical changes are not introduced soon, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) will increase by a further 19 percent in developing countries by 2015," Aaron Motsoaledi told the Diabetes Leadership Forum Africa.
"The greatest increases will be in Africa where it is anticipated NCDs will rise by 24 percent," the Sapa news agency quoted him as saying.
Motsoaledi said diabetes was prevalent in Africa but that the bulk of cases were undetected in most countries.
Deaths due to non-communicable diseases among people aged 30 to 59 in developing countries were double that of high-income states, he said, linking this to weak health care systems and diets high in fat but low in fruits and vegetables.
"Currently more than 70 percent of people with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries," he said.
"This is not a good picture, but it is evidence that we must all sit up, take note and take action."
Motsoaledi said non-communicable diseases made up 59 percent of worldwide deaths and that eight million people died prematurely per year in low- and middle-income countries.