Written by Ijeoma UKAZU

422 million adults have diabetes globally - WHO

As the world commemorates the World Health Day, the World Health Organization, WHO, has revealed that the growing number of adults suffering from diabetes worldwide is almost 422 million.
In a statement made available to our correspondent in Lagos, WHO in its first global report on diabetes said the number of adults with diabetes has almost quadrupled worldwide since 1980, mainly in developing countries, adding that it is driven by a rise in overweight and obese people.
The Director General of WHO, Margaret Chan, stressed that “if we are to make any headway in halting the rise in diabetes, we need to rethink our daily lives; to eat healthily, be physically active, and avoid excessive weight gain.”
Chan however said that even in the poorest settings, governments must ensure that people are able to make these healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose and treat people with diabetes.
She stated that "diabetes is a chronic, progressive non communicable disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose. It occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough of the insulin hormone which regulates blood sugar, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces."
The report by WHO stated that "the number of people living with diabetes and its prevalence are growing in all regions of the world. In 2014, 422 million adults (or 8.5 percent of the population) had diabetes, compared with 108 million (4.7 percent) in 1980.
"The epidemic of diabetes has major health and socio-economic impacts, especially in developing countries. In 2014, more than 1 in 3 adults aged over 18 years were overweight and more than one in 10 were obese.
"The complications of diabetes can lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation. For example, rates of lower limb amputation are 10 to 20 times higher for people with diabetes."
She also revealed that diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths in 2012, stating that "higher-than-optimal blood glucose caused an additional 2.2 million deaths by increasing the risks of cardiovascular and other diseases."
WHO's Assistant Director General for Non-Communicable Diseases, NCDs, and Mental Health, Oleg Chestnov said many cases of diabetes can be prevented, adding that measures exist to detect and manage the condition which will improve the odds that people with diabetes live long and healthy lives.
He however said that the improvement of the life of people living with diabetes is greatly dependent on governments doing more, including implementing global commitments to address diabetes and other non-communicable diseases, stressing the need to step up prevention and treatment of the disease.


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