Groote Schuur Hospital opens its first-of-a-kind Diabetes Centre | Western Cape Government

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Groote Schuur Hospital opens its first-of-a-kind Diabetes Centre

15 November 2021

Following World Diabetes Day yesterday, Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) has now officially launched its state-of-the-art Diabetes Centre today to promote a culture of excellence in Diabetes-related primary healthcare in the Western Cape. This will be the first public healthcare centre of its kind in Africa.

The launch of the Diabetes Centre was attended by the Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, Minister of Health of Western Cape, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, the Head of Health in the Western Cape, Dr Keith Cloete, as well as management at Groote Schuur Hospital and the sponsors of the Diabetes Centre.

The Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, said: “As a type 2 Diabetic myself, I know how important the launch of this centre today is. The pandemic has undoubtedly had a significant impact on our province’s ability to render primary healthcare services to patients who suffer from illnesses including Diabetes. We must begin to get our healthcare platform back on track as we recover and move forward.”

The number of People Living with Diabetes (PLWD) continues to escalate globally, outpacing all predictions. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF):

  • Over the next 2 decades, the number of PLWD in Africa is projected to increase by 143%, the greatest increase among all continents.
  • In South Africa, we continue to see a rise in the numbers of PLWD, with current estimates suggesting there are 4.6 million South Africans with diabetes.
  • Roughly 52% of PLWD are undiagnosed. At least 50% of those that are diagnosed don’t have access to adequate care.
  • Approximately 70% of all people living with diabetes remain poorly controlled.

“Overall, diabetes was the second most common cause of mortality in South Africa, just behind tuberculosis. The vulnerability of PLWD to infectious diseases has been highlighted during the recent COVID-19 pandemic with diabetes being a significant risk factor for hospitalisation and death from COVID-19. Data from the Western Cape shows that 43% of all those with COVID-19 requiring admission to hospital were PLWD and 23% of all deaths from COVID-19 were PLWD,” said Professor Joel Dave, Head of the Department of Endocrinology at GSH.

This centre will be used as a fulcrum on which an extensive and expanded diabetes service will be built providing the following services:

  1. Diabetes Clinics: Specifically focusing on complicated diabetes such as Type 1 diabetes, diabetes in pregnancy, diabetes in special situations (patients with organs transplants, cystic fibrosis, steroid-induced, atypical), preoperative optimization of diabetes, specialised Diabetes Foot Clinic encompassing a multi-disciplinary team including a podiatrist, endocrinologist, vascular surgeon, plastic surgeon.
  2. Patient Education: A dedicated patient education centre will form part of the GSH Diabetes Centre where patients will be encouraged to attend group sessions and one-on-one education sessions with trained diabetes educators.
  3. Nurse Education: A state-of-the-art Conference Room will form part of the GSH Diabetes Centre and will be used to conduct Basic and Advanced Diabetes Education Courses for all nurses within the public and private sectors.
  4. Doctor Education: The Conference Room will also be used to conduct Masterclasses in Diabetes for doctors within the public and private sectors.
  5. Training of Endocrinologists/Physicians: The expertise and technology in the GSH Diabetes Centre will be used to train the next generation of endocrinologists and physicians for South Africa and Africa.
  6. Teaching of medical students: The GSH Diabetes Centre will provide an environment in which the next generation of medical students and general practitioners will be empowered to develop a foundation of knowledge for the optimal management of PLWD.
  7. Research: The GSH Diabetes Centre will focus on generating local data that will allow for the optimal management of PLWD in South Africa and will be used to inform local and national guidelines.
  8. Outreach: The GSH Diabetes Centre will house the expertise and technology to conduct outreach clinics and training regionally, nationally and internationally within Africa. 

The Provincial Minister of Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, said: “Having worked as a nurse in the public healthcare system, I have seen firsthand how PLWD struggle with their illness. It also places enormous pressure on our healthcare system, however, we must do more in providing affordable and uninterrupted access to diabetes care for everyone. We know that early diagnosis and access to appropriate care for all types of diabetes can avoid or delay complications in people living with the condition. That is why I am so encouraged by the establishment of the Diabetes Centre. It shows that we are on the right track in the fight against diabetes.”

Should you experience any of the following symptoms of diabetes, you should approach your nearest healthcare professional:

  • Increased hunger and fatigue;
  • Increased thirst and urination;
  • Experience a dry mouth and itchy skin;
  • Blurred or decreased vision;
  • Slow-healing wounds;
  • Numbness and tingling in hands or feet; and
  • Unexplained changes in weight, including weight gains or losses.

In concluding, Premier Winde said: “I strongly encourage those of you who are Diabetic to prioritise your health. You can do so by staying on top of your treatment, as prescribed by your physician, exercising, eating healthily, monitoring your blood sugar, and staying hydrated.”


Media Enquiries: 


Please see the press kit available here: GSH Diabetes Centre Launch 

Alaric Jacobs
Communications Officer
Groote Schuur Hospital
Tel: 021 404 2188 
Email address:

Cayla Ann Tomás Murray 
Spokesperson to the Premier 
Department of the Premier 
7 Wale Street, Cape Town, 8000 
Cel: 064 121 7959 / Tel: 021 483 5004 
Email address:

Nomawethu Sbukwana 
Spokesperson to Minister Nomafrench Mbombo 
Provincial Department of Health
Cell: 083 893 5200 / 021 483 2627