BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - WITH the world recognizing November 14th as World Diabetes Day, the Pan American Health Organization is raising alarm over the level of cases being seen in the hemisphere.
The hemispheric body is concerned that the number of cases could increase to more than 100 million over the next decade, up from its current numbers which have been increasing over the past 1o years.
Concern for the health agency is that there is a large swath of the populace which does not know they are living with the ailment.
In a media statement, PAHO pointed to growing rates of obesity, poor diets and lack of physical activity, among other factors, that have contributed to “a more than three-fold increase in the number of adults living with diabetes in the Americas in the past 30 years”.
“At least 62 million people live with diabetes in the Americas, a number which is expected to be much higher given that around 40% of those with the disease are unaware they have the condition. If current trends continue, the number of people with diabetes in the region is projected to reach 109 million by 2040.
“The increase in cases of diabetes over three decades is linked to an increase in risk factors – Two-thirds of adults in the Americas are overweight or obese, and only 60% get enough exercise,” PAHO noted.
The report also pointed to an alarming trend among young people in the region: “Over 30% are now considered to be obese or overweight – almost double the global average.”, PAHO added in its media statement.
The body called on governments to improve on early diagnosis, increase access to quality care for diabetes control, and develop strategies to promote healthy lifestyles.
“These high rates of diabetes highlight the urgent need for countries to focus on prevention and the promotion of healthy lifestyles,” said Dr. Anselm Hennis, Director of the Department of Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health at PAHO. “At the same time, it is crucial to ensure early diagnosis and good disease management, which are key to controlling diabetes and preventing diabetes-related disability and poor health.”
The report noted that just 12 countries in the region have the six basic technologies required for the management of diabetes in public health facilities, including equipment for measuring blood glucose, tests for the early diagnosis of complications, and urine test strips for glucose and ketone analysis.
“It is crucial that everyone, everywhere has access to these basic diagnosis and management tools needed to prevent related disability,” Dr. Hennis added.