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November 15, 2019

Every 4th person in Pakistan suffers from diabetes


November 15, 2019

Islamabad : Every sixth second, one person in the world is dying of diabetes related complications and at the same time two new cases of diabetes are being diagnosed. Every 19 seconds, one finger or limb is being amputated due to the disease that has emerged as a leading cause of blindness, heart disease and stroke.

Presently, the situation of Pakistan is not different from the rest of the world. Two different surveys carried out by two different methodologies showed 26 per cent and 19 per cent prevalence of diabetes meaning every 4th or 5th person is suffering from diabetes. Almost the same number of patients is undiagnosed or pre-diabetic. Pre-diabetes is a condition in which a person has blood glucose levels above normal but has not reached the diabetic range.

Ex-chairman Department of Medicine at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences Professor Jamal Zafar expressed this while talking to ‘The News’ in connection with World Diabetes Day being observed Thursday all around the globe to make people aware of this chronic disabling disease.

He said the main reason behind increased prevalence is lack of exercise and unhealthy dietary habits. “We are not in a habit of walking and cycling and societal norms have shifted to a sedentary lifestyle which involves eating unhealthy foods and minimal exercise.”

Currently, it is imperative to promote a healthy lifestyle so as to prevent further people from developing diabetes, he suggested. “This can be done by educating teachers and parents so they can incorporate healthy lifestyle practices among their students and in their homes, respectively.”

Also, law makers have an important role to play ensuring that unhealthy food items are heavily taxed whereas facilities promoting healthy lifestyle and its awareness are greatly subsidized, said Professor Jamal. He added that there is a need of making laws regarding ban on unhealthy foods advertisements and ensuring that residential areas have adequate exercise facilities present.

He said print and electronic media also have a corporate social responsibility in promoting healthy attitude and practices while NGOs should also play role in preventing the epidemic of diabetes mellitus.

Once diabetes develops, it is incurable however it can be managed and controlled by lifestyle changes and medication. However it is imperative that blood glucose is controlled in order to prevent complications related to diabetes mellitus. There are many oral and injectable medications available for the effective management of diabetes, even in complicated cases, he explained.

He added that recently introduced drugs not only reduce blood glucose but also have an important role in preventing heart and kidney fatalities. “In addition to blood glucose control, control of blood pressure and cholesterol is an important component.”

Professor Jamal believes that the subject of managing diabetes is so important that health care professionals should be up to date with the management of this chronic disease and the subject should be made part of the undergraduate studies. It is need of the time that doctors and nurses be trained in the specific management of diabetes mellitus and its complications, he said.

He added the role of diabetes educators cannot be underestimated because they can educate patients to adopt healthy lifestyle which includes diet, exercise and also the proper way of administering insulin and monitoring blood sugar, which is a very important component in managing diabetes mellitus.

Management of diabetes mellitus is a team effort and by controlling blood sugar effectively and following proper guidelines, complications can be reduced considerably, he said.

According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), at present, 425 million people are suffering from Diabetes Mellitus. Of these, 90 per cent are suffering from Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Type 1 DM is also getting more prevalent and is usually found in children, said Dr. Jamal.

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