Diabetes Crises in Pakistan: A Call for Action

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Diabetes Crises in Pakistan: A Call for Action

 By Admin

 Nov 23, 2023

Diabetes, also known as a silent killer, is unfortunately a leading cause of death worldwide. The disease primarily occurs due to high blood sugar levels in the body. Either your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or cannot effectively utilize it. 

Several forms of diabetes are present. Mellitus Type 2 diabetes, in which insulin production is low, is the most common. Over time, diabetes can turn into a chronic disease, causing multiple health complications. 

Diabetes in Pakistan 

The prevalence of non-communicable diseases in Pakistan is alarming. Diabetes is one of them. Being a developing country with limited resources, Pakistan ranks at number 3 in global diabetes prevalence. Furthermore, in 2019, over 19 million people were living with diabetes in Pakistan. 8.5 million amongst these were undiagnosed patients. 

As per the stats shared by the International Diabetes Federation in 2021, the prevalence in Pakistan is 26.7%. This rate is likely to increase with each passing year. Data gathered through research and studies has shown a growing trend of diabetes in low-income countries. It makes Pakistan more vulnerable to the disease. 

Rural and Urban Population in Pakistan 

In Pakistan, 62% of the population lives in rural areas, while the remaining 38% live in urban centers. Apart from this, rising inflation has increased the percentage of people living below the poverty line. Around 12.5 million more people are added to the category, making the total percentage 39.4% from 34.2%. These people are deprived of the basic needs of life. Health and well-being are secondary to them. It is this reason why most patients stay undiagnosed. As per research, in 2015, around 3 million patients were  suffering from the disease without knowing it. Non-diagnosis gives birth to other complications like nerve damage, stroke, kidney problems, and even cancer. 

National Action Plan 

To prevent diabetes and other non-communicable diseases, a National Action Plan was created in Pakistan. It aimed to control diabetes cases in the country through awareness, education, and medicine. However, the strategies failed to be implemented as planned due to a lack of resources in the rural areas. 

Recently, in February 2023, experts warned about the growing cases of diabetes. An urge was made to create a new action plan to address the issue. They also highlighted how young people from the age group 25-30 are becoming diabetic. 

Reasons Behind the Alarming Diabetes Surge  

To control the growing number of diabetes cases, you must first understand the core reasons behind it. Considering the living patterns and income level in Pakistan, the following factors can contribute to developing diabetes: 

Poor Lifestyle 

In Pakistan, people have limited access to sports and athletic activities. You can hardly find any properly maintained walking track. Especially when it comes to the rural side, you cannot find people routinely involved in sports activities. 

The poor population of Pakistan spends a major part of their day earning bread and butter. They do not get enough time for health and fitness. Apart from this, the social and cultural norms become a hindrance in bringing change to their lifestyle. 

Most women cannot walk outside their houses without being accompanied by a male family member. Likewise, running, jogging, and exercising are considered next to impossible. 

Lack of Awareness 

A poor literacy rate of 59.3% makes matters worse. People are uneducated, and this is reflected in their dietary choices. They are not aware of the right food choices. Full-fat dairy, added sugars, and excessive oil are common in their diet. All such things increase the probability of getting diabetes. 

Furthermore, they are unaware of the symptoms associated with diabetes. For healthcare, they consider a nearby Hakeem. Getting  diagnostic testing is difficult for them. Even if the facility is available, they consider it unnecessary. 

Likewise, when it comes to obesity, which can also cause diabetes, they treat it as a sign of good health. Unfortunately, they are not aware of the negative consequences of being obese. 

Non-Diagnosis and Lack of Treatment Options 

Due to poor healthcare infrastructure in rural Pakistan, diabetic patients are often not diagnosed. Nearby clinics do not have testing facilities. Besides this, non-availability of medicines is another common concern.  

The healthcare providers in such areas are also not educated enough to guide the illiterate population. In some clinics, the staff does not even know the difference between random and fasting blood sugar level tests. 

How to Help the Underserved Communities Combat the Silent Disease 

Curtailing the number of undiagnosed cases in the rural population requires a comprehensive plan. Here are a few useful strategies for it: 

Education and Awareness 

  • Educating people, especially females, regarding the symptoms of diabetes and the significance of screening tests for diabetes
  • Helping them understand poor dietary options
  • Convincing them to lead an active lifestyle
  • Highlighting the impact of obesity 
  • Showing the consequences of diabetes 
  • Counselling to quit unhealthy habits like smoking and use of tobacco

Diagnostic Testing and Other Facilities 

  • Conducting free screening tests
  • Reminding about follow-ups through text messages 
  • Increasing the number of diagnostic testing facilities 
  • Offering free medicines for diabetes management 
  • Providing diet plans  

Diabetes Awareness Month 

Every year, November is observed as Diabetes Awareness Month. It is the time when different communities, healthcare institutes, NGOs, and individuals come together to spread awareness. Special campaigns are also launched on International Diabetes Day, which is celebrated on 14th November. 

YOU can Help Eradicate Diabetes!

Shine Humanity plays an active role in spreading diabetes awareness and arranging screening camps. Our screening camp at Chilya was also arranged for this purpose. 

Join hands with our team and play an active role in diabetes eradication. You can either donate or offer free services. Together, we can create a diabetes-free Pakistan. 

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