Call for concerted action to stop diabetes epidemic
Newly published data from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) show that number of people with diabetes continues to grow unchecked. The figures reveal that, if action is not taken to change the path of the epidemic, the numbers of people with diabetes will be close to 440 million by 2030. At a press conference held at the close of IDF's 20th World Diabetes Congress, President Jean Claude Mbanya of Cameroon voiced his concern at the figures.
"We have just released the dismal news that some 285 million people live with diabetes today. Our data show that the low and middle-income countries, where 4 out of every 5 people with diabetes will soon to be found, are bearing the brunt of the disease. The men and women most affected are of working age – the breadwinners of their families. Diabetes is now a development issue that threatens to undermine economies."
The elected President of the diabetes world, says that two burning issues in diabetes care will define his term of office. First, the need to ensure that people with diabetes receive the quality of care and informed instruction they need to best manage their disease and avoid its complications and, second, the need to stop people from developing diabetes in the first place.
The IDF President stressed the need to increase access to diabetes education so that people living with the disease can play an informed and central role in their own care. "From the global perspective, many people with diabetes can find themselves alone on a path that can lead them towards complications, depression and early death. We will need to increase awareness and deliver health education to make sure that diabetes is detected early and to make sure that the newly diagnosed are guided along a path of treatment and informed self-care that empowers them to avoid or delay the potentially devastating consequences of the disease."
IDF figures show the number of people with Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT - sometimes called pre-diabetes), who are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, have also reached alarming levels. An estimated 344 million now have pre-diabetes with the estimated figure set to grow to 472 million by 2030 if the current rate continues. For Professor Mbanya, this signals a need for health promotion supported by health education. "We need to stop people before they start the diabetes journey. We need to act before people develop the disease. This will be a huge challenge. Affecting the required behavioural change and creating healthy environments will require unparalleled cross-sectoral collaboration."
Professor Mbanya described the unhealthy lifestyle as a successful global brand and recognized that it would be an enormous challenge to fight the powerful social, cultural and market forces that are fuelling the diabetes epidemic. He insisted, however, that action must be taken. He called on the international community and donors to respond to the epidemic of diabetes and other related diseases with the same vigour with which they have tackled the infectious diseases. He called on governments to make sure that healthy life choices be made available and affordable, and to do their utmost to help prevent diabetes and other so-called lifestyle diseases.
"It will not be easy," said Professor Mbanya, "but it is a battle that we will all have to fight. Our choice is simple. Either we spend all our time mopping the floor, or we get up and turn off the tap."
Citizen News Service (CNS), India/Thailand
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