As cheerless as it may sound, it is a fact that diabetes is not just an individual’s problem but the entire family’s concern and the International Diabetes Federation has done well to theme this year’s World Diabetes Day on Family and Diabetes.
The overwhelming global concern for this disease, year after year, is not only warranted, it needs to be scaled to the highest levels of awareness because this is a health affliction that, rampant as it is, is predicted to get worse. Currently, there are 425 million diabetic people in the world and by 2045, that number is estimated to swell to 629 million, according to the Interactional Diabetes Federation (IDF).
The implications of such numbers are staggering in their import not just for individuals and families but also for governments who need to bear the cost of combating diabetes in their health care systems.
The discussions and urgencies about diabetes occupy two main streams: prevention and management, and both get equal play in the spotlight but there is, inarguably, a greater case to be made for the former.
The preventative aspect of diabetes is incalculable for the positive results it brings, by striking at the very root of the epidemic.
Focus on importance of diet, exercise and stress management as pre-emptive factors because when diabetes strikes one or more members of a family, the lifestyle adaptations and discipline required to combat it are not individual responsibilities but a collective onus
Experts stress on how important it is to continually maintain an environment of education, resources and implementation to help people stay informed on how diabetes can prevented, or having been diagnosed, be managed. But herein lies the rub. According to IDF, in 2013, of the 371 million people diagnosed with diabetes, nearly half of them did not know they had the condition.
This is precisely why this year’s theme is so powerful. It’s not just the individual who needs to be aware of diabetes; families too need to stay educated on the genetic history of the disease, a hugely significant factor, and be focused on the importance of diet, exercise and stress management as pre-emptive factors because when diabetes strikes one or more members of a family, the lifestyle adaptations and discipline required to combat it are not individual responsibilities but a collective onus.
In the UAE, fortunately, there is much to be optimistic about. According to the National Health Survey in 2018, diabetes rates dropped to 11.8 per cent of the total population in 2017 from an alarming 19.3 per cent in 2013.
Let us all do our bit to keep this drop rate going.