World Diabetes Day: 5 million Iranians suffering from diabetes

November 13, 2019

TEHRAN – Some 11 percent of Iranians above 25 years old, accounting for 5 million people, is suffering from diabetes, and 18 percent of the population are pre-diabetic, health ministry official Alireza Mahdavi announced on Wednesday.

He made the remarks on the occasion of the World Diabetes Day which is annually held on November 14.

In 2007, UN General Assembly designated November 14 as the World Diabetes Day emphasizing on “the urgent need to pursue multilateral efforts to promote and improve human health, and provide access to treatment and health-care education.”

The focus for World Diabetes Day 2019 is on Family and Diabetes. The Day is raising awareness of the impact that diabetes has on the family and support network of those affected and promoting the role of the family in the management, care, prevention and education of diabetes.

Mahdavi explained that prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes, most of whom had unhealthy diet.

The best intervention in controlling diabetes is for those at risk, these people are either newly diabetic or at risk, he said, adding, they do not have high blood sugar, so intervention can prevent the disease intensification. 

“In Iran, 25 percent of people are not aware of their diabetes, which is 50 percent in the world; in West Asia and North Africa, 60 percent of people are unaware of their diabetes.

The world's diabetic population now stands at 425 million, which increases up to 629 million by 2045,” according to Mahdavi.

Currently, 5 million people suffer from diabetes and 7 to 8 million are pre-diabetic, he said.

He went on to say that a diabetic person should have a healthy diet and be aware of the risk and prevention factors, highlighting, but even people who are not diagnosed with diabetes should also follow a healthier diet. 

Last year, 43 percent of diabetics had good control over the disease in the country, he stated, adding, the role of training and awareness in the patient's condition is undeniable.

The issue of education should be considered seriously, so in the health reform plan, all programs were integrated into a service package which formed diabetes care teams including a nurse, a nutritionist, and a physician, he explained.

“We have held training courses in this regard and the patients who received the necessary education should then train other patients,” he added.

Although the burden of diabetes is progressive, precise control can prevent the disease from progressing, especially in newly diabetic population, the disease can be prevented and postponed, he noted.

If a person is infected with type 2 diabetes or is recently infected, 7 percent of weight loss and physical activity can greatly reduce their disease, he concluded.

Afshin Ostovar, the Health Ministry’s director for non-communicable diseases, said in November 2018 that diabetes has direct and indirect costs for Iran to the tune of $4 billion per year. 

Globally, an estimated 422 million adults were living with diabetes in 2014, compared to 108 million in 1980. The global prevalence of diabetes has nearly doubled since 1980, rising from 4.7 to 8.5 percent in the adult population. This reflects an increase in associated risk factors such as being overweight or obese. Over the past decade, diabetes prevalence has risen faster in low and middle-income countries than in high-income countries.

In 2016, an estimated 1.6 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes. Another 2.2 million deaths were attributable to high blood glucose in 2012.

Almost half of all deaths attributable to high blood glucose occur before the age of 70 years. WHO estimates that diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in 2016.

Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and lower limb amputation. Healthy diet, physical activity and avoiding tobacco use can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. In addition, diabetes can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with medication, regular screening and treatment for complications.


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