Original Research

Coverage of diabetes complications screening in rural Eastern Cape, South Africa: A cross-sectional survey

Eyitayo O. Owolabi, Daniel T. Goon, Anthony I. Ajayi, Oladele V. Adeniyi, Kathryn M. Chu
South African Family Practice | Vol 64, No 1 : Part 2| a5447 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v64i1.5447 | © 2022 Eyitayo Omolara Owolabi, Daniel Ter Goon, Anthony Idowu Ajayi, Oladele Vincent Adeniyi, Kathryn M. Chu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 November 2021 | Published: 25 April 2022

About the author(s)

Eyitayo O. Owolabi, Centre for Global Surgery, Department of Global Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Daniel T. Goon, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Fort Hare, East London, South Africa
Anthony I. Ajayi, Population Dynamics and Sexual and Reproductive Health Unit, African Population and Health Research Centre, Nairobi, Kenya
Oladele V. Adeniyi, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University/Cecilia Makiwane Hospital, East London, South Africa
Kathryn M. Chu, Centre for Global Surgery, Department of Global Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa


Background: There is a paucity of data on the coverage of diabetes mellitus (DM) complications screening in primary healthcare facilities in South Africa (SA). This study assesses the extent of screening for DM complications among individuals with type 2 DM attending primary health facilities in rural Eastern Cape (EC), SA.

Methods: The study adopted a descriptive, cross-sectional design and obtained data from 372 individuals with type 2 diabetes attending six selected primary healthcare centres (PHCs) in two EC districts. Demographic and clinical data were obtained through questionnaire-based interviews and reviews of medical records. We assessed the extent of screening for estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), fasting lipogram, eye examination, foot examination and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) in the past year.

Results: Participants mean age was 62 (standard deviation [s.d.] ± 11) years, and their mean duration of diagnosis was 9 (s.d. ± 8) years. In the past year, HbA1c result was available for 71 (19.1%) of the participants; 60 (16.1%) had eGFR results, while only 33 (8.9%) had documented lipid results. In total, 52 (14.0%) had carried out eye examinations, while only 9 (2.3%) had undergone foot examinations in the past year. About two-thirds of the participants (59.9%) had not undergone any form of complication screening in the past year, and none had undergone the complete screening panel.

Conclusion: The coverage of screening for DM complications was low across all indicators. Studies to understand barriers to and facilitators of DM complications screening at PHCs are required. Also, interventions to improve diabetes complication screening in the region are needed and should target the primary healthcare providers.


diabetes; primary healthcare; screening; diabetes-related complications; South Africa


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