KARACHI: New insulin pumps — about the size of a small pager — will soon be available in the market for people with diabetes, announced Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) National Institute of Diabetes and Endocrinology (Nide) director Professor Zaman Shaikh at a seminar on Saturday.
“[They will be] equipped with novel features, such as insulin on board, bolus calculators, custom alarms, touch bolus, interface to personal computers, integration with blood glucometers and a fully featured remote and tubeless pod,” he added. He was one of the speakers at the public awareness seminar at the DUHS Ojha Campus, on Saturday.
The pumps can be programmed to deliver insulin based on a person’s lifestyle. “When this technology is combined with a continuous glucose-monitoring system, the dream of real-time control of blood sugar level will come true.”
With 7.1 million diabetes patients, Pakistan ranks seventh in the world for the condition. With an estimated current prevalence of 7.6 per cent, Pakistan is expected to have the fourth largest diabetic population in the world with 13.8 million patients by the year 2030.
Governments need to be encouraged to implement and strengthen policies for the prevention and control of diabetes, said Professor SM Rab, the chief guest at the seminar. World Diabetes Day is observed annually on November 14 around the world to raise awareness among peoples about diabetes, he added.
This diabetes awareness campaign is meant to raise awareness among the general public and the people who are at risk of having or getting diabetes, said DUHS vice-chancellor professor Dr Masood Hameed Khan. It aims to inform people about the warning signs and encourages them to get an early diagnosis, he said, adding that the DUHS has launched a programme, titled “Shield”, to create awareness about diabetes among school children as well.
Moreover, keeping the unavailability of liver transplant treatment facilities in Pakistan in mind, DUHS will soon launch a liver transplantation facility as well, he said.
Diabetes is an illness which occurs due to a problem in the production and supply of insulin in the body, said Dr Ejaz Vohra. “In large towns or metro cities, most people don’t eat healthy food and also exercise less, which may be a major reason behind this disease,” he added. The symptoms of diabetes include an increase in thirst, increase in hunger, fatigue, weight loss, increase in urination and frequent infections.
According to the figures collected by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), 285 million people across the planet are affected by diabetes mellitus (DM), said Shaikh. It is estimated that by the year 2030, the number of DM patients will increase by about 54 per cent, to around 438.4 million people, he added. Meanwhile, 26.4 million people are currently living with DM in the Middle East and North Africa and the number is expected to increase by about 94 per cent and reach 51.7 million by the year 2030, he said.
In Pakistan, the mean health expenditure on diabetes is $24 per person per year, while in India, it is $55, said Shaikh, adding that it is $33 in Afghanistan, $47 in Nigeria, $52 in Sudan while it is as high as $571 in Turkey. Shaikh stressed identifying “the variable clinical presentations of the disease and the correct biochemical values of diagnosis” as he discussed the management guidelines put on paper by the International Diabetes Federation. “The oral hypoglycaemic agents have now been approved with some reservations for use in pregnancy as well,” he revealed, after which he discussed the common complications of diabetes such as neuropathy, retinopathy and cardiac complications and their treatment options.
The seminar, which was followed by a Q&A session with the general public, was part of the “World Diabetes Day 2010” event organised by DUHS in collaboration with NIDE. The university also organised a walk, which started from the diabetes institute and ended at the Dow International Medical College campus.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2010.