Diabetes is not only a health crisis but also a burden on the health sector and the economy as it causes devastating personal suffering and drives families into poverty. The developed countries with hefty health expenditure of gross domestic product are struggling to meet the cost of diabetes care. The reality is the financial burden will continue to increase, thanks to the growing number of people developing diabetes.
The rising burden of diabetes is growing at an alarming rate as around 57 percent people living with diabetes do not know they have it, which makes Bangladesh the 10th largest country with people suffering from undiagnosed diabetes, according to International Diabetes Federation (IDF).
The Brussels based diabetes association IDF revealed that more than 6.9 million people have diabetes across the country and it will hit 13.7 million by 2045 taking it to the 9th position globally. The association also showed, globally, 425 million people, or 1 in 11 adults, have diabetes and if the stakeholders in the health sector cannot address the challenges and reduce the burden, it will hit 629 million by 2045.
Diabetes is a major contributor to cardiovascular diseases and is the eleventh common cause of disability worldwide. Undiagnosed or poorly managed diabetes can lead to lower limb amputation, blindness, and kidney disease. Some 68 percent of deaths in Bangladesh are due to non-communicable disease (NCDs) including diabetes and other chronic health conditions including old age complications, according to the survey of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
Diabetes and other NCDs pose a big threat to sustainable development goals and human development. At present, nearly half a billion people live with diabetes. Low and middle-income countries carry almost 80 percent of the diabetes burden. Unhealthy diets, rapid urbanisation, and increasingly sedentary lifestyles have resulted in higher rates of diabetes and obesity. Many countries do not have adequate resources to provide preventive or medical care for their populations.
Some four million people died due to diabetes in 2017. Despite the horrifying picture, everyone needs to work together to create a brighter future for generations to come. Everyone must work together to raise awareness on the importance of a healthy diet and physical activity, especially among children and adolescents, and incorporate healthy environments into urban planning.
The research and analysis reveal clearly that a robust and more dynamic response needed not only from different governmental sectors but also from civil societies, patient organisations, food producers and pharmaceutical manufacturers with regard to awareness and education. There is an urgency for greater action to improve diabetes outcomes and reduce the burden of diabetes.
For instance, a national prevention programme can be taken like our neighbouring country India to address the challenges of diabetes. Besides that, the government should develop a national diabetes policy in the long horizon towards a healthy nation and prosperous Bangladesh.
Diabetes can be successfully managed and complications prevented, especially when detected early. However, diagnosing and treating the disease timely and appropriately reduces serious and costly complications and death.
The writer is a communications professional working in the fight against diabetes.