When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Duped Too Often By 'Healers,' Congo's Diabetics Embrace Real Medicine

In a clinic in Goma, DRC
In a clinic in Goma, DRC

MATADI — Diabetic patients in the Bas-Congo province, in the western region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, have had enough with traditional practitioners. They insist they won’t be conned again by those who claim they can cure everything from AIDS to hypertension and even diabetes, which some 1.5 million people suffer from in this country.

After months of drinking herbal teas that did nothing to improve their health, some people decided to return to more widely-practiced treatments. “When doctors first detected high levels of sugar in my blood, I was regularly given insulin, and it worked,” explains 60-year-old Gaston Nzuzi. But “after I saw a commercial on television singing the praises of a traditional practitioner from Kinshasa who claimed he could completely cure diabetes with medicinal plants, I went to see him,” he confesses.

For months, he was given solutions to drink. “Curiously, I started to lose weight and my balance was offset. I resolved to put an end to it, and I started to take my medication from before again,” the man says.

Many patients had the same experience and realized only later that they had been duped. “I’m tired of these large-scale scams,” says Marcel Vidi, a diabetic man who swore he would never see a healer again. As for Martine Sikila, there is still a distinct bitterness in her voice when she describes the treatment she underwent. “I had to drink my own urine every morning for three months to totally get rid of my diabetes,” she says. “But every test showed the blood sugar levels were unchanged.”

Denis Lemba, a physician in charge of responding to illnesses and epidemics at the provincial health division, says that because diabetes is a chronic illness, “these therapists might have products that help with blood sugar but they can't cure diabetes.” This, he says, is clearly demonstrated by the large number of diabetic patients who, after having seen many non-traditional practitioners, “eventually come back to us for a professional and responsible treatment.”

His colleague, Taty Mawanda, believes that going to a hospital “allows for better follow-up care as well as the creation of a better database for the province.” In 2012, 2,943 cases of diabetes were registered in the region, with 52 deaths. “These statistics cannot be found anywhere other than at the provincial health division,” Lemba says.

According to some doctors, the strict control of blood sugar levels is the founding principle of diabetes treatment. “For that, the patient must be educated and become sort of his own doctor,” Lemba explains.

The absence of proper treatment can cause serious complications, and diabetes is an illness that can remain undetected for a long time. Sometimes, five to 10 years can pass between the appearance of the first symptoms and diagnosis.

To make people turn away from hospitals, sham medics use local media on which they broadcast their messages on a loop. But the media watchdog was alerted and has struck back. It banned all broadcasting of commercials for “parallel medicine” in the province’s media.

Still, physician Louis Gomez, president of the Bas-Congo Medical Association, believes that much more work must be done to raise awareness about “how diabetes develops, the disease’s consequences and how patients must behave.” Without denying that medicinal plants can in some cases be useful, Gomez recommends that all patients first see a doctor.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A Profound And Simple Reason That Negotiations Are Not An Option For Ukraine

The escalation of war in the Middle East and the stagnation of the Ukrainian counteroffensive have left many leaders in the West, who once supported Ukraine unequivocally, to look toward ceasefire talks with Russia. For Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, Piotr Andrusieczko argues that Ukraine simply cannot afford this.

Photo of Ukrainian soldiers in winter gear, marching behind a tank in a snowy landscape

Ukrainian soldiers ploughing through the snow on the frontlines

Volodymyr Zelensky's official Facebook account
Piotr Andrusieczko


KYIVUkraine is fighting for its very existence, and the war will not end soon. What should be done in the face of this reality? How can Kyiv regain its advantage on the front lines?

It's hard to deny that pessimism has been spreading among supporters of the Ukrainian cause, with some even predicting ultimate defeat for Kyiv. It's difficult to agree with this, considering how this war began and what was at stake. Yes, Ukraine has not won yet, but Ukrainians have no choice for now but to continue fighting.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

These assessments are the result of statements by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, and an interview with him in the British weekly The Economist, where the General analyzes the causes of failures on the front, notes the transition of the war to the positional phase, and, critically, evaluates the prospects and possibilities of breaking the deadlock.

Earlier, an article appeared in the American weekly TIME analyzing the challenges facing President Volodymyr Zelensky. His responses indicate that he is disappointed with the attitude of Western partners, and at the same time remains so determined that, somewhat lying to himself, he unequivocally believes in victory.

Combined, these two publications sparked discussions about the future course of the conflict and whether Ukraine can win at all.

Some people outright predict that what has been known from the beginning will happen: Russia will ultimately win, and Ukraine has already failed.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest