The prevalence of diabetes in Pakistan has increased significantly as 33 million adults are now living with diabetes in the country with an increase of 70 per cent, according to the International Diabetes Federation’s (IDF).
The report, ranking the world’s top countries for a number of adults (20–79 years) with diabetes in 2021 has put Pakistan in third place with a total of 33 million, after China (141 million) and India (74 million).
One in four adults (26.7%) in Pakistan is living with diabetes – the highest national prevalence in the world, the report claimed and said that an additional 11 million adults in Pakistan have Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT), which places them at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, Pakistan’s official news agency, APP reported.
More than a quarter (26.9%) of adults living with diabetes in Pakistan remains undiagnosed, which means that undetected or inadequately treated diabetic people are at risk of serious and life-threatening complications such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and lower-limb amputation.
These factors result in poor quality of life and higher healthcare costs, the report added.
The IDF says that 537 million adults are now living with diabetes worldwide – a rise of 16% (74 million) since the previous IDF estimates in 2019.
“The rapidly rising level of diabetes in Pakistan presents a significant challenge to the health and well-being of individuals and families in the country,” says Professor Abdul Basit, director of Baqai Institute of Diabetology and Endocrinology at Baqai Medical University.
He said that this year marks 100 years since the discovery of insulin, noting that the milestone presents a unique opportunity to reflect on the impact of diabetes and highlights the urgent need to improve access to care for the millions affected. He said that an estimated one in two people with diabetes across the world who need insulin cannot access or afford it.
“We must do more to provide affordable and uninterrupted access to diabetes care for all in Pakistan, and around the world. Joint efforts are needed to improve the lives of people with diabetes and prevent the condition in those at high risk of developing it,” Basit added.
Globally, 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. The rise in the number of people with type 2 is driven by a complex interplay of socio-economic, demographic, environmental and genetic factors while the key contributors include urbanization, an ageing population, decreasing levels of physical activity and increased levels of overweight and obesity.
Evidence suggests that type 2 diabetes can often be prevented, while early diagnosis and access to appropriate care for all types of diabetes can avoid or delay complications in people living with the condition