AIMS : To describe the diabetic population receiving primary care from the Tshwane district public
health services and to assess the quality of care of members of this population, their level of disease
control and the extent of their complications.
METHODS : A cluster-randomised trial was conducted in 12 primary care clinics in Tshwane district. A
total of 599 diabetic patients attending these clinics for review were consecutively interviewed and
clinically examined. Data on the care received was also obtained from their clinical records for the
previous 12 months. Patients randomised to the active arm of the study were screened for
RESULTS : The mean age was 58 years and 80.5% had a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25kg/m2. Sixty-eight
percent of patients were female. Acceptable glycaemic control and LDL-cholesterol were found for
only 27% and 33% of patients respectively (HbA1c<7%; LDL <2.5 mmol/l). Despite more than 79%
of patients reporting to be hypertensive, 68% of patients had a systolic blood pressure above 130
mmHg and 64% had a diastolic blood pressure above 80 mmHg. Evaluating patient records of the
preceding year, screening for eye complications was only reported in 8.2%, feet complications in
6.5%, kidney complications in 21.4% and cardiovascular complications in 7.8%. The screening
prevalences found were 29% for retinopathy, 22% for maculopathy, 5% for neuropathy
(neurothesiometer), 7% for nephropathy (eGFR stage3-5), 17% for possible infarction (Rose
questionnaire) and 36% for severe erectile dysfunction (SHIM questionnaire).
CONCLUSION : Diabetes care and screening for complications at primary care level in the Tshwane
district were found to be sub-optimal. Measures should be taken to address this.