This great story featuring our long-time SALSAmigo Professor Abdul Basit.
KARACHI: The prevalence of diabetes and the people at risk of getting the disease in Pakistan have doubled in the age group of 15 to 25 during eight years, according to a study.
The research involved 16 villages of Hub, Balochistan, where researchers carried out survey of the population from 2002 to 2010. A formal research paper has yet to be published. In the 15-25 years age group, obesity tripled and hypertension doubled during the same period. The situation with the population above 25 was even more serious. While diabetes and borderline cases doubled, obesity tripled and hypertension also doubled.
The facts were shared by Dr Abdul Basit, the director of Baqai Institute of Diabetology and Endocrinology, at a seminar organised by Merck at the Pearl Continental Hotel on Wednesday.
“This is why the doctors should not just diagnose and write up medicines for diabetes treatment but also advocate ways for its prevention,” he said.
In Pakistan, about 6.9 million people are diabetic while another 7 million are at risk (borderline cases). By 2030, the number of diabetics is expected to go up to 11.4 million.
Awareness on diabetes and its control is important as the disease has a huge economic burden, said Basit, who is also a professor of medicine. “The first thing to kill us if diabetes goes unchecked will not be the disease itself but its economic burden,” he said. “If the government decides to treat diabetes today, even the whole health budget will not suffice.”
A simple treatment of diabetic foot – a complication resulting from long-term diabetes – may cost up to Rs 3,150. At a chronic stage, the treatment cost may go up to Rs56,700. Ten per cent of the diabetic foot ulcers in the country result in amputation.
The Baqai institute has 115 Diabetic Foot Clinics across Pakistan, with 12 intermediate model clinics at hospitals and 103 minimal model clinics. “The minimalist model has reported a 50 per cent improvement, “Basit said. However, another 1,700 such clinics are needed to fight the disease. The three most important health sectors that need immediate attention are diabetic education, diabetic foot and diabetes in children, said Basit.
The Baqai institute’s has started a one-year diploma on diabetes education and trained 83 professionals so far. The institute is among the eight Centres of Diabetic Education recognised in the world by the International Diabetic Federation.
Under the “Insulin My Life Project”, the diabetology institute is providing free insulin to children across Sindh in collaboration with the Diabetic Association of Pakistan and World Diabetes Foundation. The institute is also training family physicians and providing online courses for their capacity building.
As the South Asian population is more prone to diabetes than Caucasians, diabetes prevalence and epigenetic reasons – the effect of mother’s conditions on a baby – are also being studied. “As we know that both low and high birth weights are related to diabetes, we may be able to establish the appropriate birth weight for our population,” the professor concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2012.