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India’s diabetes burden second to China

Dec 13, 2012

With experts saying that diabetes is no longer a disease of the rich, India is likely to have an estimated 100 million people suffering from it by 2030.

With diabetes no longer a disease of the rich, it is likely to spread to 552 million people across the world and 100 million in India by 2030. “Diabetes and its complications represent a rapidly expanding public health concern with devastating health and economic consequences. It now affects a large number of people from the lower middle class and poor segments.

Diabetes over a long term affects all organs of the body and is linked to heart attacks, stroke, some cancers and several infections,” Prof K Srinath Reddy, President of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) said.

Reddy was speaking in New Delhi at the launch of ‘Uday’-a five year project under the Lilly NCD  Partnership to fight the rising burden of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in India, with an initial focus on improving outcomes for people with diabetes and High Blood Pressure (HBP). “Despite all the good intent, India’s national programme on diabetes has not progressed and can claim only limited success to its credit, which is why there is a need to explore innovative models for tackling this disease. The project will include awareness activities, healthcare provider training and patient care in these districts,” Reddy said.

‘Uday’ is funded by a grant to PHFI under pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly’s $30 million global initiative to tackle NCDs in four countries including India. The primary partners for ‘Uday’ in India are the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Population Services International (PSI) and Project HOPE.

Dr Evan Lee, Vice President, Global Health Programs and Access, Eli Lilly, said that project Uday will cover four lakh people in two districts, Sonepat in the north Indian state of Haryana, and Vizag in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

“Diabetes is a very complicated disease which involves many aspects of the health system including prevention, early detection, treatment and prevention of complications. Diabetes being a lifelong disease, developing a model to tackle it is not as simple as treating an infection. Diabetes is not the fault of individuals, it is a public health problem. Proper treatment along with the lifestyle changes can help people in dealing with diabetes,” Lee said.

The 135-year old company was the first one to scale up the production of insulin in the 1920s on a commercial scale to make it widely available, Lee said.

Melt Van Der Spuy, Managing Director, Eli Lilly India, said that non-communicable diseases are a major health challenge for India. “There is a pressing need to address the rising burden of NCDs.”

Prof D Prabhakaran, Director, Centre for Chronic Disease Control and PHFI, said preventive strategies were urgently required to curb the anticipated 50 per cent increase in premature death due to diabetes in the next decade.
Chronic diseases disproportionately affect the economically disadvantaged, with studies suggesting that around 80 per cent of all NCD deaths are occurring in low- and middle-income countries like India. NCDs are also a major contributor to poverty and a barrier to social and economic development in the developing countries.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, India which is home to over 61 million diabetic patients has seen an increase from 50.8 million last year. By 2030, India's diabetes burden is expected to cross the 100 million mark as against 87 million earlier estimated. Estimates put India’s diabetes burden second only to China. China has 90 million people suffering from diabetes in 2011 and is expected to touch the figure of about 130 million by the year 2030.

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