Kunsaka has broadened its strategic policy position to focus on improving the health and wellbeing of Africans living in the UK. This includes influencing and advocating for policies that address interlinked health conditions holistically. This change in direction follows Kunsaka members' own changing priorities locally.
There are still high rates of diabetes and mental health amongst Africans in the UK, but recent improvements to diabetes and mental health treatment mean that people living with diabetes and mental health can expect to live longer. This is coupled with the documented susceptibility of people living with diabetes and mental health to other related health conditions which means it is no longer possible to address diabetes and mental healthin isolation.
Diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, inhibits the body’s ability to manage blood sugar levels. A serious long term health condition, it is also a growing public health problem, as 2.8 million people in the UK (around 4.6% of the population) suffer from diabetes, while around one million people have diabetes but are unaware of it. Some groups are more susceptible to the condition. Africans are five times more likely than the rest of the population to have diabetes. This is due to a complex set of factors including genetics, diet and socio-economic conditions.
Kunsaka notes the worrying evidence that Africans are at a twofold risk of diabetes – genetic and socio-economic. The statistics linking diabetes and deprivation have strong implications for the African community. Africans are among the groups susceptible to diabetes from an earlier age – the NHS Health Check programme only covers people between the ages of 40 and 74. Kunsaka would like to see the NHS health check age limit lowered for Africans and other groups, or other prevention strategies put in place for the 25-40 age group.
Act on Diabetes. Now Diabetes education and prevention is the theme for World Diabetes Day 14th November 2009 - 2013.
Mental ill health is the largest single cause of disability in the UK, contributing almost 23% of the overall burden of disease. The most common mental illnesses suffered in the UK are anxiety and depression. A range of conditions come under the label of ‘mental ill health’ and there are a range of interventions and treatments: mental ill health cannot be seen as a single problem with a single solution – it affects and is affected by employability, social life, family relationships, and other aspects of health.
Mental health should be a public health priority. The barriers that exist for Africans to access mainstream mental health services mean that there are a variety of settings in which to address mental ill health and promote mental wellbeing, and various policy areas that contribute to a prevention agenda. Recognising the role and potential of the African voluntary sector to provide vital interventions if properly resourced and linked to essential statutory services is essential if mental health in African communities is to be properly addressed.