Diabetes Crises in Pakistan: A Call for Action
Nov 23, 2023
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
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
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.
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
Rural and Urban Population in Pakistan
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
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.
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
Reasons Behind the Alarming Diabetes
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:
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
- Convincing them to lead an
- Highlighting the impact of
- Showing the consequences of
- Counselling to quit unhealthy habits like smoking and use of tobacco
Diagnostic Testing and Other Facilities
- Conducting free screening
- Reminding about follow-ups
through text messages
- Increasing the number of
diagnostic testing facilities
- Offering free medicines for
- Providing diet plans
Diabetes Awareness Month
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
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.
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.