ISLAMABAD: National Health Services Federal Minister Muhammad Yusuf Shaikh said that there are 425 million people living in the world with diabetes and the inexorable advance of diabetes all over the world seems unfortunately unstoppable. However, he vowed that they have a duty to do whatever they can and whatever it takes to stop its advance.
Addressing a launching seminar of National Diabetes Survey of Pakistan 2016-17 on Wednesday, the minister said that findings of the National Diabetes Survey are showing an alarming burden of disease in Pakistan. The number of people with diabetes has increased three times from 8.7 per cent in the 1994-98 survey to 26.3 per cent in the 2016-17 survey, constituting about 27.4 million people.
There is an increasing trend towards younger people developing diabetes as 30 per cent youngsters of aged between 20-39 years have diabetes. This is a very worrying trend. The rise of diabetes in rural settings is another area of concern. The minister said that despite the grim picture painted by these figures, we have the knowledge and expertise today to create conditions which can considerably reduce the onset of diabetes for the next generation.
This can be achieved by increasing awareness on the importance of a healthy diet and regular physical activity for everyone, male or female, young and elderly. But we must particularly target the children and the young people about the absolute benefits of physical exercise and sports for the quality of life. He said it is imperative for low and middle-income countries to prepare themselves by taking adequate and effective measures to address this looming pandemic.
It is essential that health professionals – particularly the primary care practitioners – provide advice and counseling about lifestyle and diet in order to raise awareness on the disease. The minister added that we have valid data on the prevalence and the risk factors of the diabetes. He congratulated Pakistan Health Research Council (PHRC) and the partners who participated in the survey. He added that we have to develop strategies for the prevention of diabetes in order to reduce incidence rates and develop effective measure for better management of the affected to avoid the burden of complications in future.
Ministry of National Health Services Federal Secretary Zahid Saeed said that in Pakistan, majority of the population consumes unhealthy diet and the concept of eating vegetables and fruits is not common. Due to urbanisation and availability of easy transport in rural areas, people are becoming physically inactive. More than half of the population in the country is overweight and obese. Women were more overweight than men.
Besides these factors, illiteracy and lack of awareness about risk factors of diabetes and preventive measures are also important reasons. Similarly, a substantial proportion remains undiagnosed; aggravating the situation.