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August 4, 2019

Prevalence of diabetes rises by up to 60pc in Balochistan: experts


August 4, 2019

Due to the prevailing law and order situation and lack of recreational facilities in Balochistan, prevalence of diabetes in the violence-ravaged province has increased by up to 60 percent, more than double the overall prevalence of the disease in Pakistan which is around 26 percent, experts claimed on Saturday.

“Overall diabetes prevalence in Pakistan is 26 percent, but unfortunately, it is around 60 percent in Balochistan. The reason behind such a high prevalence of diabetes in Balochistan according to local doctors is restricted movement of people due to the prevailing security situation and the absence of recreational facilities in the under-developed province of Pakistan,” said Prof Dr Abdul Basit, chairman of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, while talking to The News at the sidelines of an international diabetes conference on Saturday.

Eminent international health experts working in the field of diabetes and its complications, including Prof Dr Roberto Anichini from Italy, Dr Zulfiqar G Abbas from Tanzania, Dr Salma E Khuraibet from Kuwait, are attending the Nadep Diabetes Footcon 2019 being held in Karachi with a focus on creating awareness about diabetic foot ulcers and its prevention to reduce amputations in Pakistan.

“In addition to restricted movement and lack of recreational facilities, there is need to conduct scientific research as to why people of Balochistan are more prone to having diabetes genetically as compared to people of the rest of Pakistan. We conducted two researches in the Hub town of Balochistan where we found diabetes and obesity on the rise among general population but there is a need to conduct comprehensive studies in entire Balochistan,” Prof Abdul Basit maintained.

Speaking about diabetes and its complications in Pakistan, he claimed that like elsewhere in the world, amputation of lower limbs due to diabetes is the leading cause of disability in Pakistan, where, according to an estimate, three to four hundred thousand people are deprived of their feet and legs because of “diabetic foot ulcers”, which is a serious but preventable cause of lower limb amputations.

“In 2005, one person was losing his or her lower limbs due to diabetic foot ulcers after every 30 seconds somewhere in the world, but at the moment, this rate has increased and now every 20 seconds, one amputation is being carried out somewhere in the world. Almost the same is the situation in Pakistan and as per our estimates three to four hundred thousand people annually lose their lower limbs due to diabetic foot ulcers in Pakistan,” said Prof Basit disclosed.

The IDF official was of the opinion that Pakistan required at least “3,000 diabetic foot clinics” to reduce amputations because of diabetic foot ulcers and to prevent the country from becoming a disabled nation. “In Sindh, we have spoken to the provincial health department and have offered them to train their doctors so that they could provide training to health experts operating in rural areas where diabetes prevalence as a high as in the urban centres.” Former federal health secretary Ayub Shaikh claimed that there were

some villages in Pakistan where “100 percent population” was living with diabetes, but unfortunately none of them were aware of their disease.

He added that there was an urgent need to take up this issue and create awareness about this non-communicable disease, which was spreading faster than communicable diseases.

Praising the Baqai Institute of Diabetology and Endocrinology (BIDE) Karachi for carrying out a comprehensive survey to ascertain the overall prevalence of diabetes in Pakistan, the former health secretary urged the authorities to pay attention to the growing incidence of diabetes and take immediate and long-term measures to prevent a vast majority of people from becoming disabled due to

diabetes and its complications including diabetic foot ulcers.

A renowned diabetologist and chairman of the organizing committee of the foot conference, Dr Zahid Miyan, said Nadep is the National Association of Diabetes Educators of Pakistan, which is striving to educate doctors, healthcare providers including nurses and paramedics as well as people living with diabetes so that they could be prevented from serious complications of the life-style disease, including amputations of lower limbs.

“At our centre, with the help of education and focus on prevention, the amputation rate has decreased merely to four percent. We have been able to save thousands of limbs which used to be amputated, but there is a need to train more doctors, healthcare providers and the people in this regard. We are performing this job by regularly holding conferences like Nadep Footcon 2019,” Dr Miyan said.

Other experts, including Prof Dr Roberto Anichini from Italy, Dr Zulfiqar G Abbas from Tanzania, Prof Dr Bikha Ram, Vice Chancellor Liaquat University of Medical Health Sciences (LUMHS), and Dr Saif-ul-Haq from the BIDE Karachi, also spoke at the first day of the two-day international moot.