Addressing a bitter health crisis

Addressing a bitter health crisis

Diabetes, described as a bitter health crisis at home and overseas and the sixth leading cause of death of Filipinos, continues to be a challenge to medical experts who this year are celebrating 100 years of the discovery for its cure.

Many thanks to researchers in Toronto a century back, this medical issue has been attended to.

The discovery raised a welcome reprieve for sufferers from the unforgiving clutches of this medical issue, not the least some 422 million people worldwide who have diabetes, the majority living in low-and middle-income countries.

Some 1.6 million deaths are directly attributed to diabetes each year, according to available figures.

Medical experts have said both the number of cases and the prevalence of diabetes have been increasing the past few decades, with an estimated 9.3 percent of adults aged 20-79 years – a staggering 463 million people – with diabetes.

An additional 1.1 million children and adolescents under the age of 20 have type 1 diabetes. A decade ago, in 2010, the global projection for diabetes in 2025 was 438 million.

The International Diabetes Federation reported that more than 400 million people, as of 2015, had diabetes while the World Health Organization estimated that 90 percent of people worldwide have Type 2.

In the Philippines, 1 in 14 Filipino adults lives with diabetes. Available figures show that as of 2019, International Diabetes Federation data suggested that 3,993,300 of the then total 63,265,700 Filipino adult population have diabetes, with a 6.3 percent prevalence of diabetes in adults.2

The prevalence of diabetes in the Philippines is increasing. Rapid urbanization with increasing dependence on electronic gadgets and a sedentary lifestyle contributes significantly to this epidemic.

Diabetes is the 6th leading cause of death among Filipinos based on the data from the 2013 Philippine Health Statistics, and over 6 million Filipinos are diagnosed to have diabetes, as declared by the Philippine Center for Diabetes Education Foundation in 2016.

Community restrictions and remote work arrangements keep Filipinos at home and safe from the frightening coronavirus pandemic, also known as COVID-19.

However, experts said lack of exercise and decreased activity lead to other medical conditions like obesity, which may develop into Type 2 diabetes mellitus or adult diabetes.

“The pandemic and subsequent lockdown have directly affected diabetes control. There is the lack of accessibility, the limitation of movement and lack of exercise, and an increase in anxiety and fear amongst patients and their families,” Dr. Gilbert Vilela, vice president of the Philippine Heart Association, highlighted in a virtual conference with reporters.

Philippine Statistics Authority data showed that deaths due to diabetes mellitus ranked fourth in 2020 at 37,265, after heart diseases (99,680), cancer (62,289), and cerebrovascular diseases (59,736).

Deaths by diabetes mellitus, which Vilela said is “a very silent and persistent problem,” increased by 7.8 percent from the 2019 tally.

Vilela said four million adults in the Philippines are diagnosed with diabetes and common comorbidities and complications with type 2 diabetes, including heart diseases.

More than 32 percent of those with type 2 diabetes have cardiovascular complications, while more than 87 percent are either overweight or obese, according to their data.

“For the past three years, ischemic heart disease, cancer, and pneumonia have been listed as the top three causes of death in Filipinos, with diabetes following in fourth place. However, the news here is that the increase in ischemic heart disease is only 2.3 percent, while cancer went down by about 10 percent, and pneumonia by about six percent. Diabetes went up by 7.8 percent,” Vilela said.

We join the rest of the world in celebrating the discovery of insulin to address this killer disease. (ai/mtvn)

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