New Delhi: Globally, around 422 million people have diabetes, and 1.5 million deaths are directly attributed to it every year, according to the World Health Organisation.
On this World Diabetes Day, the global health body has called for increased access to quality diabetes education for healthcare workers, people living with diabetes as part of efforts to achieve access for all to quality, affordable diabetes care.
In the WHO South-East Asia Region, more than 96 million people are estimated to have diabetes, and another 96 million to be pre-diabetic, causing at least 600 000 deaths annually.
By 2045, unless urgent action is taken, the prevalence of diabetes in the Region is expected to increase by 68 per cent, said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia.
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease that if detected late can lead to serious and life-threatening damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves. The risk of type 2 diabetes can be reduced through regular and adequate physical activity, healthy eating, and by avoiding tobacco and harmful use of alcohol.
“If developed, type 2 diabetes can be managed through medication, control of blood pressure and lipids, and adherence to a healthy lifestyle. Type 1 diabetes, which affects more *than 250 000 children and adolescents in the Region, cannot currently be prevented, but can be managed. For people living with both types of diabetes, access to affordable treatment – including insulin – is critical to their survival”, said Dr Singh.
WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, said that the region is currently on track to achieve a 30 per cent relative reduction in tobacco use prevalence between 2010 and 2025, and last year launched a Regional Roadmap on implementing the Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030.
“The roadmap will help Member States achieve a 15 per cent relative reduction in the prevalence of insufficient physical activity by 2030, which will in turn help them to reduce expected increases in new diabetes cases”, said Dr Singh.
While talking about the preventive measures, Dr Singh said that WHO is calling for action in several key areas. Firstly, policy makers should set time-bound targets to address gaps in service coverage, with a focus on equity and leaving no one behind.
Secondly, high-impact, cost-effective and context-appropriate interventions must continue to be identified and implemented. Thirdly, policy makers should continue to strengthen PHC service delivery, ensuring that diabetes screening and care is available, accessible, acceptable, and of adequate quality, without discrimination, accelerating momentum from the 2016 Colombo Declaration.
And, fourthly, the countries must continue to promote access to essential medicines and priority devices, including insulin, in national benefit packages, said WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia.