‘One in four Pakistanis found to have diabetes’

ISLAMABAD: Quite against the predictions and expectations of health fraternity and policymakers, more than 26 percent population of Pakistan is suffering from type 2 diabetes, which means that around 35 to 38 million Pakistanis – above the age of 20 – have diabetes, the National Diabetes Survey (NDS) 2016-2017 revealed. The results of the survey were made public at a health conference here on Friday.

“According to older estimates, the number of persons with type 2 diabetes was around 7-8 million, or between 7-8 percent, in Pakistan and experts were expecting it to touch 15-20 percent by 2040. Shockingly, the number of diabetics has already crossed the figure of 26 percent in Pakistan, which is quite alarming for the entire nation,” Baqai Institute of Diabetology and Endocrinology (BIDE) Director Prof Abdul Basit said, while speaking at the inaugural ceremony of NADEP Foot Con 2017, here at a local hotel.

The National Diabetes Survey, first of its kind conducted in Pakistan or elsewhere in the low-income group countries of world during the past five years, was conducted by the BIDE Karachi in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Pakistan Health Research Council, Diabetic Association of Pakistan, and WHO Collaborating Centre in Pakistan.

During the survey, which was conducted in rural and urban areas of all provinces and Islamabad by 17 teams of skilled researchers, as many as 10,834 persons were tested for type 2 diabetes as per World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Out of the people tested for type 2 diabetes, 7.14 percent new cases of diabetes were detected.

“There are already 19.05 percent known cases of Diabetes Mellitus in Pakistan and combined with the new cases, prevalence of diabetes is 26.19 percent, which is quite shocking and alarming for the entire nation,” Prof Abdul Basit said.

The new survey revealed that every one in four Pakistanis, who is above the age of 20, has diabetes, he disclosed and further revealed that around 14.47 percent of Pakistanis had pre-diabetes.

“Our survey further revealed that around 14.47 percent Pakistanis are at the risk of having diabetes sooner or later in their lives, which also needs to be taken seriously,” he maintained.

He further said that sub-analysis or further details of the National Diabetes Survey would be released within next six months as teams of experts were further analysing the data gathered from rural and urban areas of all four provinces. He added that more shocking revelations were expected in the days to come.

Calling for major health policy changes in Pakistan based on the result of National Diabetes Survey 2017, Prof Basit called for early prevention programmes at school levels to tackle the threat of diabetes in the country, adding that all stakeholders including policymakers, academicians, pharmaceuticals industry, all ministries, health sector and media should join hands to prevent the likely catastrophe due to diabetes in Pakistan.

On the event, Prof Basit paid tribute to Federal Health Secretary Ayub Shaikh for his support in conducting the national diabetes survey. “Without his cooperation, this gigantic task could not be performed amicably,” he said.

It is worth-mentioning here that in addition to diabetes, subjects were also tested for hypertension, cholesterol, obesity and other related factors, and researchers hoped that their survey would also reveal the actual number of people with hypertension, dyslipidemia and obesity in Pakistan.

International Diabetes Federation President Prof Samad Shera felicitated the BIDE team and especially Prof Abdul Basit for completing the uphill task, saying only people with passion like him could perform such a miracle.

“I and my colleagues are striving hard for the past few decades to create awareness about diabetes and this survey would prove to be a big help in creating awareness and learning about the looming threat of diabetes in Pakistan. It would also open the eyes of policymakers to device realistic policies in combating this menace,” he maintained.

Director General Health Dr Asad Hafeez in his remarks lauded the BIDE team for its tremendous work in carrying out the survey without seeking any extraordinary support from the state.

He said that the BIDE team had performed the job of government and helped authorities to learn the gravity of situation so that proper measures and steps could be taken. The health conference would continue till Sunday here at the local hotel during which experts from Australia, Europe and entire Pakistan would discuss issues related to diabetes, especially diabetic foot, due to which thousands of amputations are held annually in Pakistan.

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