77 percent of people in India have diabetes, 57 percent of them are unaware of the disease

Being home to the second largest number of diabetics in the world, diabetes has become the most dreaded word in India. This is a very scary situation and is expected to worsen in the coming years.

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Dr. Brajmohan Makkar: Did you know that in the world Diabetes One in every six Indians is suffering from any problem? Yes, the number of people with diabetes in India is now a very significant part of the total number of diabetics in the world. It is one of the world’s biggest health emergencies in the 21st century, being one of the top 10 leading causes of death worldwide. Not only this, it has affected many developing economies especially India like an epidemic.

Being home to the second largest number of diabetics in the world, diabetes has become the most dreaded word in India. This is a very scary situation and is expected to worsen in the coming years. This raises two very important questions. First, does India have adequate access to the drugs and technology needed to control diabetes? Second, how can there be synergy between the public and private healthcare sectors to bridge the gap in diabetes care in India?

The most common problem that India is facing is that people are not well informed about any health related matter. Many people who are suffering from diabetes do not even know about it. People who know about this disease do not show much interest in consulting a doctor to solve this problem. According to data published in several reports, more than 77 million adults in India are suffering from diabetes and 57 percent of these diabetes cases are still undiagnosed. Because of this, there is a big gap between diabetes mainstreaming and its care. It is noteworthy that among all cases of diabetes, the number of cases of type 2 diabetes is about 95 percent. This is why most Indians with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Some studies indicate that cases of type 1 diabetes are also increasing by three to five percent each year.

Diabetes treatment in India is a major challenge

Diabetes treatment is a major challenge in India, as it requires an adequate health system as well as awareness from top level to grassroots level. There are many issues like socio-cultural disparities, poor medical facilities for diabetes care, lack of monitoring and follow-up of patients, due to which diabetes care in India is directly affected. However, diabetes care in India is mainly affected by the urban-rural divide in terms of access to drugs and technology.

According to the ICMR-India DIAB study, higher incidence of diabetes and pre-diabetes was found in urban areas than in rural areas. The prevalence of diabetes was found to be 11.2 percent in urban areas and 5.2 percent in rural areas. Explain that this epidemiological study was conducted by the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) at the national level, covering 15 states and union territories of the country.

Coordination between public and private healthcare sectors is the need of the hour.

Diabetes management in India is a mammoth task and there are many reasons for this. Lack of general awareness is one of the major factors hindering the management of diabetes and its complications. The general public, especially those living in remote areas, neither have adequate knowledge about the disease nor have access to health facilities. Lack of health workers, drugs and equipment leads to non-diagnosis or delay in diagnosis, thereby increasing the incidence of diabetes in India. One of the major factors affecting diabetes care in India is the problem of implementing effective management and educational strategies. For this reason, the need for coordination between healthcare professionals and policy makers becomes crucial.

This will increase awareness and access to diabetes care even in remote areas of the country. The public and private healthcare sectors must work together to bridge the gap in diabetes care. Success can be achieved by applying appropriate preventive and management strategies.

(The author is senior diabetes specialist and president, RSSDI.)

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