Covid-19 South African findings

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    • More research is needed and is being done in the world and in our country South Africa. However, from current findings from the ministry of health we learn the following:

      People living with chronic diseases:

      In South Africa as reported by the department of health minister (Dr Zweli Mkhize) serious illness and death due to Covid- 19 has been observed in people with these three Non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiac diseases.  More serious illness has also been seen in people with existing lung disease, asthma, chronic kidney disease, infections e.g. HIV and TB as well in cancer patients.  These results are in line with emerging evidence worldwide.  This is also in line with my previous blog on the science of immunity and covid-19.  According to the centres of Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), people with chronic conditions are twice as likely to suffer from serious complications if they become infected with COVID-19.  As I had mentioned in my last Covid-19 blog that 80% of diseases are caused or affect the immune system so it is no surprised that people living with chronic disease would be more at risk.  Diseases of lifestyle such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiac disease put a lot of pressure on the body and with that makes it even harder for the body to deal with any new and extra illness.  This is worrying in South Africa, where these are the NCD’s that are in the top ten major causes of death and disability anyway in South Africa with HIV/AIDS and TB in the top.


      It good to see that the emerging data from current worldwide observation is also in line with what sis currently happening in South Africa. South Africa has not had any death of children (0 – 19 years). In my previous blog I mentioned that from research, children might get this virus but from how the immune system they was / is no evidence that children are more susceptible to this virus than any other people. However, as with all lung/respiratory diseases, children with underlying health conditions, such as asthma, may be at increased risk of severe infection.


      Dr Zweli Mkhize, reported that the median age of death is currently 64 in South Africa.  This is also in line with what we see happening in other countries. Elderly are at least twice as likely to suffer from serious complications, just like people living with chronic diseases (CDC).  From my research for my last covid-19 blog this has to do with that, our immune system deteriorates with age and fails to function optimally.

      What now?

      1. Prevention

      WHO has put out guidelines on how to prevent this virus and three of the main things are:

      • Regularly washing our hands and or sanitize with an alcohol base solution
      • Practicing social and physical distancing
      • Staying home to cut the spread of the virus

      It is important to protect those that are more vulnerable if you have symptoms or not – just practice social distancing and frequent washing of hands even in our homes.  Even with the eased lockdown regulations, it is still highly recommended to stay home and only leave home for work and or buying of essential goods.

      1. Management of chronic diseases

      Without a doubt, nutrition plays a vital role in the management of non-communicable diseases.  Proper nutrition can help prevent and manage chronic disease. However, each chronic disease is different and requires a unique approach to healthy eating. Nutrition requirements for someone with chronic kidney failure are vastly different to someone with heart disease and vice versa.

      Top tips to help manage chronic diseases:

      • Firstly, you need to have seen in a nutrition expert (e.g. Dietitian) if you are living with a chronic disease
      • Frequent monitoring and evaluation with your dietitian is important
      • Following an individualized eating plan design for your disease is important
      • Taking medication and following medication orders from your doctor is important
      • Do not ask family and friends on your diseases – they are not trained on health and disease management unless a family member or a friend is your attending healthcare provider.

      TAKE HOME:

      People living with chronic diseases, and elderly are more at risk of serious illness from Covid-19.  There is no evidence that children are more susceptible unless they have underlying respiratory related diseases.  Prevention is key through recommendation in place by WHO. Management of chronic diseases is important, more so now and nutrition plays a role in management of such diseases. Asking advise from professionals all the time will save you money, time and effort.



Yours In Health

Mbali Mapholi


Author: Mbali Mapholi Inc

Mbali is a qualified clinical dietitian (Bsc. dietetics & PGDip dietetics) obtained from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In dietetics she has special interest in Heart and heart related diseases, gastrointestinal (GIT) related diseases, weight management and African diet nutrition. She is a business woman with entities MiNutrition ZA and Mbali Mapholi Inc, under her belt. She is well published in the field of Nutrition with ray of media contributions (Radio, television and print media). Mbali believes is the type of eating that is nourishing, enjoyable, accessible and affordable. She believes in that nutrition education that is based on science delivered by a trusted source, is important to help people make informed nutrition decisions for themselves and those around them.

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