KARACHI: Four-year-old Muzamil slept through the panel discussion on diabetes awareness organised by Aga Khan University (AKU) even though, two years ago, he was diagnosed with the disease. To make up for the lack of insulin production by his body, he has to get three injections of the hormone every day - and if he wants chocolate, that number goes up to five. He is still too young to understand what diabetes is, let alone why he needs the daily injections.
At an awareness seminar organised by AKU to commemorate World Diabetes Day, his mother spoke about how the family came to terms when Muzamil was diagnosed with type-I. "We didn't know what was happening when he got sick. He wasn't even overweight!" his mother told The Express Tribune, adding that she had no problems with her sugar levels when she was pregnant. "There is no awareness about it in young people, especially young parents." Her statement was borne out by the fact that apart from her and Muzamil, the auditorium held only middle-aged or elderly diabetic patients.
Around 120,000 people lose the battle against diabetes in Pakistan every year, according to the panelists at the discussion, who included AKU professors Dr Jaweed Akhtar, Dr Najmul Islam and Dr Asma Ahmed as well as clinical dietician Salma Siddiqui.
They explained that diabetes, which occurs when the level of glucose in the body rises and the body either stops producing insulin or produces insufficient amounts, has three types - type I, type II and gestational diabetes mellitus.
Speaking on topics ranging from the nutrition pattern for diabetic patients to the management and prevention of the disease, they added that it was caused by obesity, genetics, lack of physical activity or simply when the body failed to make enough insulin or when sugar levels weren't controlled.
"Gastric surgery helps in reducing weight and can help to manage diabetes," said Dr Akhter, discussing how overweight people could prevent the disease. "It can be managed by proper medicine, diet and exercise but going to the doctor is imperative, since different people have different base sugar levels."
Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th, 2014.
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