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November 14, 2019

Over 19m adults in Pakistan are diabetic, says international body

Karachi

November 14, 2019

Pakistan is among the top 10 countries with absolute increase in diabetes prevalence, as the latest figures show that over 19 million Pakistanis (17.1 per cent of the country’s adult population) are diabetic, and the number continues to rise every day, claimed the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) on Wednesday.

Prof Abdul Basit, IDF President for Middle East & North Africa region, told the media that the international body has launched its ninth edition of the IDF Diabetes Atlas in connection with World Diabetes Day, which is observed around the world every November 14.

The Atlas shows that the prevalence of diabetes in Pakistan is now 148 per cent higher than previously reported. Right now 8.5 million of the 19 million diabetics are undiagnosed.

The IDF report highlights the importance of preventing the condition and tackling its complications to protect individuals, families and society. Prof Basit said Pakistanis need to take care of themselves and their children, as around 10 million children are living with obesity, which is the biggest cause of diabetes.

He said that the new figures released by the IDF highlight the alarming growth in the prevalence of diabetes around the world. Some 38 million more adults are now estimated to be living with diabetes globally compared to the results published in 2017.

Globally, an estimated 463 million adults are living with diabetes and 55 million are in the Middle East & North Africa region alone. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) accounts for up to 90 per cent of the total.

The rise in the number of people with T2D is driven by a complex interplay of socio-economic, demographic, environmental and genetic factors.

Key contributors include urbanisation, an ageing population, decreasing levels of physical activity, and increasing levels of overweight and obesity. For hitherto unknown reasons, type 1 diabetes (T1D) is also on the rise. Diabetes has an impact on all age groups, regardless of geography and income. Globally, over 1.1 million children and adolescents are living with T1D, while three in every four people with diabetes (352 million) are of working age (20-64 years).

The rise in the prevalence is putting a strain on the capacity of countries to guarantee regular and affordable access to essential medicines and appropriate care. This leaves many struggling to manage their diabetes, placing their health at serious risk.

When their diabetes is undetected or when they are inadequately supported, people with diabetes are at risk of serious and life-threatening complications, such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and lower-limb amputation. These result in reduced quality of life and higher health care costs, and place undue stress on families. “Diabetes is a serious threat to global health that respects neither socio-economic status nor national boundaries,” said Prof Basit, who is also Karachi director of the Baqai Institute of Diabetology & Endocrinology and a member of the IDF Diabetes Atlas Committee.

“The increasing prevalence of diabetes in Pakistan is a wake-up call. We must do more to prevent T2D, diagnose all forms of diabetes early and prevent complications. We must also ensure that every person with diabetes has affordable and uninterrupted access to the care they need.”

Much can be done to reduce the impact of diabetes. Evidence suggests that T2D can often be prevented, while early diagnosis and access to appropriate care for all types of diabetes can avoid or delay complications in people living with the condition.

Prof Basit said that key global findings from the Atlas show that diabetes is among the top 10 causes of death, with up to half of the deaths occurring in people under the age of 60. “The total number of people with diabetes is predicted to rise to 578 million by 2030 and to 700 million by 2045. As many as 374 million adults have impaired glucose tolerance, placing them at high risk of developing T2D,” he said.

“Diabetes has been responsible for an estimated $760 billion [Rs118.18 trillion] in health expenditure in 2019, while one in six live births are affected by hyperglycaemia in pregnancy,” he added while sharing facts and figures from the Atlas.

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