Ahead of World Health Day, the World Health Organisation has urged countries to take concerted steps towards controlling diabetes, a disease which has reached “epidemic proportions.”
“By 2030, diabetes will be the world’s seventh largest killer unless intense and focused efforts are made by governments, communities and individuals,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director, WHO, South-East Asia.
This year’s World Health Day, marked every April 7, will focus on diabetes, which is increasingly hitting the low and middle income countries.
Diabetes is of particular concern in the South-East Asia Region as more than one out of every four of the 3.7 million diabetes-related deaths globally occur in the region. “While its prevalence exacerbates difficulties in the control of major infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, what is more worrying is that almost half of the 96 million people suffering from the disease don’t know they have it,” said Dr Singh.
A sedentary lifestyle coupled with sugar, salt and fat-rich diets are driving the epidemic, which primarily affects those in their prime.
Nearly 90% of all diabetes cases are of Type 2 diabetes, largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity. “It is both preventable and treatable if detected early,” said Dr Singh.
If not properly managed, the disease causes serious damage to major organs in the body, resulting in heart attacks, strokes, blindness and nerve damage.