The Republic of Mauritius in collaboration with the World Health Organization Afro Region and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) today opened an International Conference on Diabetes & Associated Diseases in Port Louis, Mauritius to highlight their concern about the rapid growth of the diabetes epidemic throughout Africa. The conference will run from November 12 and end on November 14 - World Diabetes Day.
The Pan-African conference will feature the Regional Director of WHO Afro and health ministers from 46 African countries, directors from WHO global and WHO Afro, IDF experts,and other leading diabetes experts from across the globe to discuss the current issues, lates
Africa will have the highest percentage increase in the number of people with diabetes in the next 20 years because of rapid industrialization and general improvements in living standards over the past five decades according to the latest data from the IDF Diabetes Atlas 4th edition. At least 80% of people in Africa with diabetes remain undiagnosed. The picture is bleak for those already affected by diabetes as the IDF data shows that in Africa, most of those who die from diabetes are in the economically productive age group (30 to 60 years).
"No country is immune to diabetes and no country has all the answers to this common enemy that we confront. No country has yet managed to reverse the trend of rising prevalence. Defeating diabetes will take every ounce of commitment and ingenuity that we can summon. It is time to think creatively and to break down old paradigms. Studies show increasingly strong linkages between diabetes and many other diseases, such as heart disease, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS," said Professor Jean Claude Mbanya, President of the International Diabetes Federation and co-chair of the Scientific Committee of the conference.
Mbanya added, "IDF's aim is to achieve sustainable health systems as called for in United Nations Resolution 61/225, and to catalyse funding that is committed to helping health systems develop sustainable, cost-effective measures for prevention and care of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases"
Africa is not alone in fighting the diabetes epidemic. IDF data shows that 285 million people worldwide now live with diabetes (4-in-5 are in developing countries). That number is expected to exceed 435 million in 2030 if the current rate of growth continues unchecked. Diabetes will kill four million people in the coming year, more than HIV/AIDS and Malaria combined.
Diabetes has become a development issue which threatens health and economic prosperity in low- and middle-income countries. IDF predicts that diabetes will cost the world economy at least US$376 billion in 2010, or 11.6% of total world healthcare expenditure. By 2030, this number is projected to exceed US$490 billion. More than 80% of diabetes spending is in the world's richest countries and not in the poorer countries, where over 70 percent of people with diabetes now live.
Diabetes in Mauritius
Globally, only one other country has a larger proportion of its population with diabetes than Mauritius, the Pacific island of Nauru.
"If one needed a barometer for assessing or predicting the direction of the global diabetes epidemic, we do not need to go past the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius with its population of about 1.3 million," said Professor Paul Zimmet, Co-Chair of the IDF Task Force on Epidemiology and Prevention from Australia's Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.
Zimmet, who is co-chair of the scientific committee and a keynote speaker at the conference, said the multi-racial population of Mauritius (Asian Indian Hindus, Asian Indian Muslims, Chinese and Creoles) has undergone rapid industrialization and economic growth over the past several decades. This brought in its wake a dramatic shift in the disease pattern. He noted that these ethnic groups constitute two-thirds of the world's population. Mauritius acts as a microcosm of the global epidemic and data from successive studies here have been critical for IDF in its global predictions of diabetes.
Along with the Mauritius Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, Zimmet and Sir George Alberti have been conducting surveys in Mauritius since 1987 (1992, 1998, and 2004) which have shown that prevalence rates for diabetes and its complications are very high. Between 1987 and 1998, there was a 38% increase in diabetes numbers. In the most recent 2009 survey, (led by Sudhir Kowlessur and Professor Zimmet), there has been a further dramatic increase in numbers.
"This bodes poorly for India (50.8 million) and China (43.2 million), the two nations that already have the most people with diabetes globally as well as the many nations around the world with immigration of these ethnic groups," said Zimmet.
Zimmet also voiced his great concern about the dramatic increase in diabetes in Indigenous populations citing the example of Australia's Aboriginal population. "In our rich nation," he said, "we have close to the highest world rates of diabetes, diabetic kidney disease and amputations in the world. Diabetes is the fastest growing disease worldwide and one of the greatest public health challenges of the 21st Century"
Professor Mbanya said, "Faced with these alarming numbers in Mauritius, it is especially important that we focus on the country this World Diabetes Day. This international conference marks the start of the political action necessary to reverse the diabetes epidemic worldwide."
For the next five years IDF is focused on Diabetes Education and Prevention through its World Diabetes Day campaign.
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