KARACHI: To combat the growing challenge of diabetes in Pakistan, it is necessary to implement effective measures for mitigating the risk of type 2 diabetes — an illness that is preventable through changes in lifestyle and dietary habits in around 80 per cent of cases.
This was shared by experts at a scientific session organised by the Diabetic Association of Pakistan (DAP) Karachi, in connection with World Diabetes Day at a local hotel.
Prof Abdul Basit, representing DAP, introduced the theme and slogan for this year’s campaign that focused on knowing one’s risk for diabetes and how to respond to it.
“Diabetes is a persistent and debilitating health condition, imposing significant financial burden on both individuals and healthcare systems. In Pakistan, a staggering 33 million people currently live with diabetes, and projections indicate that this number could surge to 62 million by the year 2045,” he said.
Central to this initiative, he pointed out, was the promotion of a nationwide screening programme that utilised a scientifically validated tool (RAPID score) designed to assess individual diabetes risk.
Dr Munira Abbasi, associated with Riphah Institute of Lifestyle Medicine, Islamabad, said that currently over 537 million people (one in 10) were living with diabetes. This number was expected to rise to 643 million by 2030, she added.
“Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented but 80 percent cases of type 2 diabetes are preventable by adopting a healthy lifestyle. People at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes should be identified,” she said.
The risk factors included age, waist circumference, family history and cardiovascular, gestational and hormonal history, she added.
Early detection and timely intervention, she said, was the key to prevent diabetes and complications of diabetes. “There is substantial evidence that lifestyle modification i.e. a healthy diet, losing weight if overweight and regular physical activity – 30 minutes brisk walk daily will reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 35-40%. You can’t change your genes but you can change your way of life.”
Dr Somia Iqtadar of the King Edward Medical University Lahore said that hyperglycaemia in pregnancy was one of the most common medical conditions in pregnancy.
“One in 6 live births (21 million) is affected by high blood glucose in pregnancy. It can happen at any stage of pregnancy but is more common in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. It is associated with an increased risk of babies growing larger than usual, premature birth, preeclampsia, jaundice and stillbirth,” she added.
Prof Zainab Samad from Aga Khan University said that non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, kill 41 million people each year.
“Seventy-seven percent of these deaths are reported in low and middle income countries. These chronic diseases are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors.”
Prof Muhammad Yakoob Ahmedani, associated with Baqai Medical University, spoke about diabetes and Ramadan and said the management of the disease in this month involved a multidisciplinary approach.
“One must seek advice from a healthcare provider regarding diet, exercise, insulin dosage and medication adjustments. Diabetics must monitor their blood sugar levels regularly while fasting as they are at risk of hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia,” he said.
Published in Dawn, November 22th, 2023