South African women from different walks of life have come together to raise funds for the Bongi Ngema-Zuma (BNZ) Foundation to raise awareness about diabetes.

According to statistics released by the International Diabetes Federation, 415 million people in the world are living with diabete. Type 2 diabetes among children and youth, as well as gestational diabetes, is on the rise

Speaking at the event held here over the weekend, Kerry Kalweit, a clinical trial expert in diabetology and epidemiology and General Manager of the Youth With Diabetes (YWD) organization, shared that she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a teenager.

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. “For half of my life, I have been living with diabetes,” she said.

After her diagnosis, Kalweit felt a need to actively get involved in raising awareness about diabetes. The gravity of this is nowhere else more articulated than in the fact that if not managed correctly, diabetes can be life threatening. However, if all the precautions and necessary steps are followed, one can live a normal life.

“No one should be discriminated against because of the disease. No one chooses to have diabetes,” she said.

The chairperson of the BNZ Foundation, Bongumusa Makhathini, called on South Africans to invest in the future of the country by making healthy choices. “When people are sick, it costs the country a lot of money. It is imperative to have a healthy society,” he said.

As part of its empowerment agenda, the BNZ Foundation works with women in both urban and rural areas to develop their business skills by exposing them to platforms that will expand their clientele, linking them to potential sponsors and other established business leaders to mentor them and facilitate training opportunities in business development through community projects.

More than four million South Africans live with diabetes.