Burden, spectrum and etiology of type 2 diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa

Principal Investigator: Ayesha Motala
School of Clinical Medicine
Nelson R Mandela (NRMSM) Campus
University of KwaZulu - Natal
Scientific Description: Our primary aim is to assess the burden and aetiological characteristics of T2D in adults in SSA using large scale population based approaches. To achieve this, we aim to develop a large scale epidemiological and genomic research resource comprising up to 12,000 cases of T2D and a population based cross-sectional study of up to 12,000 participants drawn from diverse sampling frames across SSA. Scientific objectives:
To assess the burden and spectrum of T2D in adults;
To investigate the environmental and genetic determinants of T2D in SSA;
To characterise the prevalence and distribution of microvascular complications associated with T2D; and
To study the environmental and genetic determinants of microvascular complications associated with T2D.
The research will be supported by cross-cutting research activities, which will be common to the work of most, if not all, the scientific objectives, including:
Networking and management;
Epidemiological design and statistical analysis;Bioinformatics;
Genomics and statistical genetics; 
Capacity building; and Bioethics.
To achieve these scientific objectives — and as part of the vision for a sustainable research network — local capacity building, including researchers and infrastructure, will be a fundamental component of the proposed research programme.
Lay Description: In 2010, over 12 million people in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) were estimated to have diabetes. Recent estimates suggest that the prevalence of diabetes in SSA is around 5%. However, over the next 20 years, it is predicted that SSA will have the highest growth in the number of people with diabetes of any region in the world — with a doubling of the current prevalence. Thus diabetes is likely to be a major health problem in SSA, competing for limited health resources with infectious diseases. However, in many countries in SSA the burden and risk factors for diabetes is not clear. To help prevent diabetes and treat people with the disease, it is important to understand how many people develop diabetes and what may cause it. We aim to survey people from several countries in SSA to determine what proportion of the population has the disease and what the risk factors may be, including using genetic techniques to identify the causes of diabetes. This information will be important to identify ways to prevent and treat diabetes in Africa.