Over 35m Pakistanis above age 20 suffer from diabetes

Health expert says early prevention programmes at school level to tackle the threat of diabetes are imperative


Our Correspondent August 19, 2017
Health expert says early prevention programmes at school level to tackle the threat of diabetes are imperative. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Contrary to the predictions and expectations of the health fraternity and policymakers, more than 26 per cent population of Pakistan is suffering from type 2 diabetes, which means that around 35 to 38 million Pakistanis above the age of 20 years have diabetes, reveals the National Diabetes Survey (NDS) 2016-2017 whose results were made public at a health conference  on Friday.

“According to earlier 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 but shockingly, number of diabetics has already crossed the figure of 26 percent in Pakistan, which is quite alarming for entire nation”, said Prof. Abdul Basit, Director Baqai Institute of Diabetology and Endocrinology (BIDE) while speaking at the inaugural ceremony of Nadep Foot Con 2017  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 last five years, was conducted by the BIDE Karachi in collaboration with Ministry of Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Islamabad, Pakistan Health Research Council and Diabetic Association of Pakistan; WHO Collaborating Centre in Pakistan.

During the survey, which was conducted in rural and urban areas of all four provinces of Pakistan and Islamabad federal capital territory by 17 teams of skilled researchers since August 2016, as many as 10,834 persons were tested for type 2 diabetes as per World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and of them, 7.14 per cent new cases of diabetes were detected.

“There are already 19.05 per cent 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 revealed.

The new survey revealed that every one in four Pakistanis who is above the age of 20 years has diabetes, Prof. Abdul Basit 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.

Prof. Basit maintained 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 and added that more shocking revelations were expected in the days to come.

Calling for a 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, saying all stakeholders including policymakers, academia, pharma industry, all ministries, health sector and media should join hands to prevent the likely catastrophe due to diabetes in Pakistan.

On the occasion, Prof. Abdul Basit paid full tribute to Federal Health Secretary Ayub Shaikh for his support in conducting the national diabetes survey, saying without his cooperation this gigantic task could not be performed amicably.

In addition to diabetes, other 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.

Honorary President of International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and eminent diabetologist Prof. Samad Shera felicitated the BIDE team and especially its Director Prof. Abdul Basit for completing the uphill task, saying only people with passion like him could perform such a miracle.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2017.

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