Simple treatment to curb diabetes

by Fikri Zaki Muhammadi on 2014-01-20

Affordable and simple health care is the key to suppressing persistent growth in the number of diabetes patients across the globe, which had reached an alarming level, an expert has said.

“Every six seconds, a person dies of diabetes,” said Shaukat M. Sadikot, president-elect of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), on Saturday.

Sadikot was speaking during the Global Diabetes Forum. The event, themed “Take a Step for Diabetes”, was hosted by Kalbe Nutritionals at the Sheraton Hotel in Kuta, Badung.

Around 124 doctors and health practitioners from seven countries — including Malaysia, the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam —were present at the event.

“We have made tremendous advances in our knowledge of diabetes. We are making tremendous advances in the number of medicines available. All of us talk about things we know,” Sadikot said.

“And yet, what is happening on the ground? Things are getting worse,” he stated.

Sadikot said that millions of low-income people could not afford the diabetes test, let alone treatment.

Statistics showed that around 49 percent of people in Asia, 62 percent in Africa and 54 percent in the Western-Pacific region, did not know that they were suffering from diabetes, he said, either due to lack of access or finance.

An endocrinologist from India said doctors and health practitioners must move away from their academic guidelines and resort to cheaper methods when it came to treating the underprivileged, thus benefiting the people on the ground.

“It must be taken into consideration, the realities in the field,” he said.

“We talk of lifestyle [...] But the question is that what I think should be done in lifestyle may not be relevant to any state in India; let alone the world,” he said as an example.

China and India have very high numbers of diabetes patients.

According to IDF data in 2013, Southeast Asian countries had the highest number of diabetic patients in the world, with around 23 million people of the 381 million people across the globe.

The data also forecasted that the region would see 39 million people with diabetes by 2035.

Indonesia has the fourth highest number of diabetes patients in Asia, and seventh in the world, with around 8.5 million patients.

Untreated diabetes can cause fatal complications, such as diabetic ketoacidosis and non-ketotic hyperosmolar coma, and serious long-term complications include heart disease, chronic renal failure and retinal damage.

Adequate treatment of diabetes is thus important, alongside blood pressure control and lifestyle factors, such as stopping smoking and maintaining a healthy body weight.

“Let us do something that will make a difference to our people with diabetes rather than just talking,” Sadikot said.

Sidartawan Soegondo of the Indonesian Diabetes Association said that 90 percent of diabetes patients were of type II, which was mostly hereditary.

Type II diabetes is a condition in which cells fail to use insulin properly.

Sidartawan said that diabetes should be prevented, mentioning one of the easiest ways was to manage body weight.

“We have to do something early,” he said.

Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi, who failed to attend the event for undisclosed reasons, praised through a recorded video the organizing committee for taking the initiative to host this event.

“To protect our future from diabetes, start with our own efforts. With every individual playing an important role in prevention and control of diabetes,” Nafsiah said.

She said the government had also taken multiple steps to address the issue by establishing supportive policies.

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