We keep our eyes fixed on Diabetes – the “Silent killer” in Rural Cameroon

The situation

According to the 2019 International Diabetes Federation (IDF) atlas, there were 19 million adults living with diabetes in Africa in 2019, representing a prevalence of 3.9%.1 In Cameroon, the overall prevalence of diabetes mellitus is estimated at 5.8%.2 While these figures are lower than in other regions of the world, they are masked by huge number of undiagnosed cases. The IDF estimates shows that Africa has the highest proportion (60%) of diabetes cases in the world.1 The high rate of undiagnosed cases in Africa has been mainly attributed to more rural populations with limited resources and low prioritisation of screening.

Global Week for Action on NCDs,7th – 11th sept 2020
Activity: Transport diabetes patients from Rural
Idenau to receive specialist care at LRH.
Sponsored by: WDF, BUIB, & HRF-Buea.


Contrary to past trends, rural areas in Africa are now experiencing a rise in diabetes. In Cameroon the rural prevalence of diabetes has been estimated to be between   7% – 10.5% in French speaking regions3-5 and 3.8 – 4.9 in the south west English speaking region.6,7 In 2020, Leke and colleagues estimated that almost 68% of persons living with diabetes in the rural south west region are unaware of their status. According to their projections, the number of rural diabetes cases in this region will double in the next 10 years, if no interventions are initiated and implemented. People living with diabetes in rural Cameroon lack access to specialist care, which are mainly located in urban areas. The minimum package of activities for Health centres which remain the main source of care for rural areas do not particularly focus on diabetes. Added to the challenge of COVID-19, people living with diabetes in rural Cameroon are facing the toughest challenge ever.


During this 2020 Global Week for action on NCDs, Health Research Foundation (HRF) Buea, in collaboration with Biaka University Institute of Buea (BUIB), is stepping up their support for people living in rural areas with diabetes. Our action builds on an ongoing project (Funded by World Diabetes Foundation and BUIB), where nurses are empowered to care for diabetes patients in rural areas of the Limbe Health District. Amid the challenges of COVID-19, we are transporting patients from these rural areas to urban diabetes centres where they can receive specialist care. All care expenses are covered with the kind support from WDF, BUIB & HRF.

What are you doing on your part to support these vulnerable people who have been abandoned to their fate? Every little helps! Please contact us at leke@hrfbuea.org to register your support. Thank you in advance.

Aminkeng Z. Leke (PhD), Dr. Maboh Michel (PhD) & Mr. Obale Armstrong (MSc) on behalf of the Health Research Foundation Diabetes Team and Partners.


  1. IDF Diabetes Atlas. 9th Edition, 2019.
  2. Bigna, J.J., Nansseu, J.R., Katte, J.C. and Noubiap, J.J. (2018) Prevalence of Prediabetes and Diabetes Mellitus among Adults Residing in Cameroon: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, 137, 109-118. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.diabres.2017.12.005
  3. Napoli, N., Mottini, G., Arigliani, M., Creta, A., Giua, R., Incammisa, A., Carotti, S., Sihom, F., Yimagou, I., Alombah, R. and Mbanya, J.C. (2010) Unexpectedly High Rates of Obesity and Dysglycemia among Villagers in Cameroon. Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews, 26, 10-12.
  4. Lissock, C.N.A.A., Sobngwi, E., Ngassam, E. and Ngoa, L.S.E. (2011) Rural and Urban Differences in Metabolic Profiles in a Cameroonian Population. Pan African Medical Journal, 10, 1. https://doi.org/10.4314/pamj.v10i0.72204
  5. Kaze, F.F., Meto, D.T., Halle, M.P., Ngogang, J. and Kengne, A.P. (2015) Prevalence and Determinants of Chronic Kidney Disease in Rural and Urban Cameroonians: A Cross-Sectional Study. BMC Nephrology, 16, 117. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12882-015-0111-8
  6. Leke, Z.A., Cheryl, P. and Maboh, N. (2014) Breaking Barriers to Rural Diabetes Management in Rural Communities: Student Nurses Make a Difference Using Point-of-Care Testing. GSTF Journal of Nursing and Health Care, 1, 37-44.
  7. Leke, A.Z., Maboh, N.M., Maeya, S.E., Armstrong, O., Ndumbe, L.D., Nyenti, B.P., Afumbom, A.D., Sone, N.B., Etiendem, D. and Nkwati, E.S., 2020. Epidemiological Transition of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Rural South West Cameroon. Open Journal of Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases10(4), pp.45-58.

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