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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rich condition in poor countries - Diabetes Capital of the World

You have heard this enough – ‘it is a disorder and not a disability and India has become the Capital of it’.  It is ‘Diabetes mellitus’ or simply Diabetes [commonly told as sugar disease] -  a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced.  It is a chronic disease that arises when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.  Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that enables cells to take in glucose from the blood and use it for energy. Failure to produce insulin, or of insulin to act properly, or both, leads to raised glucose (sugar) levels in the blood (hyperglycaemia). This is associated with long-term damage to the body and failure of various organs and tissues.

Earlier, it was believed that diabetes / heart diseases tend to afflict rich because of their sedentary lifestyle – total myth – factually, many poor men do not care to have themselves tested to know their real condition.  

The situation is alarming in someways.  Recently,  over  120 world leaders from the UN, governments, private sector and NGOs have released a blueprint for action around the diabetes epidemic. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that unless rapid action is taken, one person in ten will have diabetes by 2030.   The Dubai Blueprint, a product of IDF’s World Diabetes Congress in Dubai, is the first concrete step taken collectively by the private sector to tackle diabetes since the UN Summit on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) last September.

The Western World is seen as advanced one and there are developing and under-developed countries.  UN data recently released shows the clearest evidence to date of the spread of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease to Africa, indicative of the fact of spread of  'Western' problems from developed nations to poorer regions.  The United Nations data showed one in three adults worldwide has raised blood pressure - the cause of around half of all deaths from stroke and heart disease.  Sadly, poor diets that have fed the spread of heart disease and diabetes and let to an explosion in obesity in the West are now being found in Africa

The condition now affects almost half the adult population in some countries in Africa.  Billions are spent on treating the disease and in preventing the risks of of heart disease, kidney failure and blindness.  The WHO report further puts that  almost 80 per cent of deaths from such diseases now occur in low- and middle-income countries.  In Africa, rising smoking rates, a shift towards Western-style diets and less exercise mean chronic or so-called non-communicable diseases are rising rapidly and are expected to surpass other diseases as the most common killers by 2020.

In wealthy countries, widespread diagnosis and treatment with low-cost drugs have significantly reduced average blood pressure readings across populations - and this has contributed to a reduction in deaths from heart disease, the WHO said.  But in Africa, more than 40 per cent - and in some places up to 50 per cent - of adults in many countries are estimated to have high blood pressure.  Sadly, most  of these people remain undiagnosed, the report said, and yet many could be treated with inexpensive medicines - an intervention that would cut the risk of death and disability from heart disease and stroke.  Obesity is another major issue, the WHO said.   The WHO's World Health Statistics report is published annually and contains data from 194 countries on a range of health indicators including life expectancy, illnesses and deaths from various diseases, health services, treatments, and risk factors or behaviours that affect health.  [with inputs on WHO from]

There is something known as Diabetes Atlas and its 5th edition was released in Nov 2011.  New figures indicate that the number of people living with diabetes is expected to rise from 366 million in 2011 to 552 million by 2030, if no urgent action is taken. This equates to approximately three new cases every ten seconds or almost ten million per year. IDF also estimates that as many as 183 million people are unaware that they have diabetes.  The statistics highlight that 80% of people with diabetes live in low and middle income countries; 78,000 children develop type 1 diabetes every year

----- and   China has overtaken India to wrest the title of the ‘Diabetes Capital of the World', going by the  figures revealed by the 5th edition of Diabetes Atlas.  At 90.0 million, China  has the largest number of people with diabetes. India follows with about 61.3 million, and the third on the list is far behind – United States at 23.7 million.

These  figures are at  a huge variance from the statistics presented during the earlier edition of the Diabetes Atlas. In 2009, the fourth edition put India at the top of the list of nations with diabetics.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


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