Consider this – in the time it takes you to read this news piece, about 50 people would have died due to diabetes. The human cost of diabetes is unbearable: one person dies due to diabetes every 7 seconds.
That is the chilling reality of this silent killer, and the grim stats are going to get even grimmer unless collective action can stop diabetes from spreading at the rapid pace that it is spreading today.
On, World Diabetes Day, November 14, the International Diabetes Federation released new data on the global burden of diabetes.
The number of people who suffer from diabetes worldwide is 387 million and this number is expected to reach 592 million by 2035.
Seven of the top 20 countries when it comes to diabetes prevalence are from the Middle East and North Africa region with the Gulf States leading the unfortunate statistics.
Saudi Arabia takes the top spot in the region in terms of diabetes prevalence with almost 24 per cent of its population living with the disease. Kuwait is second with 23.1 per cent followed by Bahrain (21.9 per cent), Qatar (19.8 per cent) and United Arab Emirates with 19 per cent.
The global health expenditure reached $612 billion in 2014, which is a rise of 63 per cent since 2010.
“We are seeing an increase in diabetes prevalence and mortality year-on-year. However, we now have simple, cost-effective ways to tackle this increase.
“Investing in healthy nutrition and increasing the accessibility of healthy food choices will reduce the global burden of diabetes, and save billions in lost productivity and healthcare costs,” said Professor El-Sayed, Regional Chair, MENA Region, International Diabetes Federation, at a press briefing in Dubai.
Diabetes is one of today’s most pressing healthcare challenges, driven mainly by urbanisation, ageing populations and unhealthy lifestyles.
Obesity is one of the main risk factors for developing the disease. However, up to 70 per cent of type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented or delayed by adopting healthier lifestyles, equivalent to up to 150 million diabetes cases by 2035.
Diabetes in the Middle East
Cases of type 2 diabetes continue to soar in the Middle East and North Africa region (Mena) where around one in every 10 adults live with diabetes.
The number of cases is expected to increase with more than 80 per cent from 36.8 million people today to 67.9 million in 2035, which makes it one of the world’s fastest growing regions for diabetes.
Healthcare budgets in the region will reflect the added disease burden in years to come and total health expenditure is set to rise from $16.8bn today to $24.7bn in 2035. Although 9 per cent of all people with diabetes live in this region, only 3 per cent of the world’s healthcare budget is spent here.
“Diabetes is a major challenge to healthcare systems as well as to people’s quality of life. We need to discuss concrete solutions for how to tackle diabetes in the Middle East, how to better prevent the disease as well as ensuring the best treatment.
“Healthcare sectors, governments and the industry need to work together to make this happen,” said Mike Doustdar, Senior Vice-President, International Operations, Novo Nordisk.
World Diabetes Day
The date, November 14, was chosen because it is the birthday of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, first conceived the idea which led to the discovery of insulin in 1921.
Since the adoption of the United Nations (UN) Resolution on diabetes in December 2006, World Diabetes Day has become an official United Nations World Health Day.
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