The first WHO Global report on diabetes demonstrates that the number of adults living with diabetes has almost quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults. This dramatic rise is largely due to the rise in type 2 diabetes and factors driving it include overweight and obesity.
In 2012 alone diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths. Its complications can lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation.
The new report calls upon governments to ensure that people are able to make healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose, treat and care for people with diabetes. It encourages us all as individuals to eat healthily, be physically active, and avoid excessive weight gain.
Diabetes is a serious, chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar, or glucose), or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Diabetes is an important public health problem, one of four priority noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) targeted for action by world leaders. Both the number of cases and the prevalence of diabetes has been steadily increasing over the past few decades
Globally, an estimated 422 million adults were living with diabetes in 2014, compared to 108 million in 1980. The global prevalence (age-standardized) of diabetes has nearly doubled since 1980, rising from 4.7% to 8.5% 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. Diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths in 2012. Higher-than-optimal blood glucose caused an additional 2.2 million deaths, by increasing the risks of cardiovascular and other diseases. Forty-three percent of these 3.7 million deaths occur before the age of 70 years. The percentage of deaths attributable to high blood glucose or diabetes that occurs prior to age 70 is higher in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries. Because sophisticated laboratory tests are usually required to distinguish between type 1 diabetes (which requires insulin injections for survival) and type 2 diabetes (where 1. These are insulins derived from human insulin by modifying its structure to change the pharmacokinetic profile. the body cannot properly use the insulin it produces), separate global estimates of diabetes prevalence for type 1 and type 2 do not exist. The majority of people with diabetes are affected by type 2 diabetes. This used to occur nearly entirely among adults, but now occurs in children too.
Diabetes of all types can lead to complications in many parts of the body and can increase the overall risk of dying prematurely. Possible complications include heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, leg amputation, vision loss and nerve damage. In pregnancy, poorly controlled diabetes increases the risk of fetal death and other complication
Diabetes and its complications bring about substantial economic loss to people with diabetes and their families, and to health systems and national economies through direct medical costs and loss of work and wages. While the major cost drivers are hospital and outpatient care, a contributing factor is the rise in cost for analogue insulins 1 which are increasingly prescribed despite little evidence that they provide significant advantages over cheaper human insulins.
Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented with current knowledge. Effective approaches are available to prevent type 2 diabetes and to prevent the complications and premature death that can result from all types of diabetes. These include policies and practices across whole populations and within specific settings (school, home, workplace) that contribute to good health for everyone, regardless of whether they have diabetes, such as exercising regularly, eating healthily, avoiding smoking, and controlling blood pressure and lipids. Taking a life-course perspective is essential for preventing type 2 diabetes, as it is for many health conditions. Early in life, when eating and physical activity habits are formed and when the long-term regulation of energy balance may be programmed, there is a critical window for intervention to mitigate the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life. No single policy or intervention can ensure this happens. It calls for a whole-of-government and whole of-society approach, in which all sectors systematically consider the health impact of policies in trade, agriculture, finance, transport, education and urban planning – recognizing that health is enhanced or obstructed as a result of policies in these and other areas.
The starting point for living well with diabetes is an early diagnosis – the longer a person lives with undiagnosed and untreated diabetes, the worse their health outcomes are likely to be. Easy access to basic diagnostics, such as blood glucose testing, should therefore be available in primary health-care settings. Established systems for referral and back-referral are needed, as patients will need periodic specialist assessment or treatment for complications. For those who are diagnosed with diabetes, a series of cost-effective interventions can improve their outcomes, regardless of what type of diabetes they may have. These interventions include blood glucose control, through a combination of diet, physical activity and, if necessary, medication; control of blood pressure and lipids to reduce cardiovascular risk and other complications; and regular screening for damage to the eyes, kidneys and feet, to facilitate early treatment. Diabetes management can be strengthened through the use of standards and protocols. Efforts to improve capacity for diagnosis and treatment of diabetes should occur in the context of integrated noncommunicable disease (NCD) management to yield better outcomes. At a minimum, diabetes and cardiovascular disease management can be combined. Integrated management of diabetes and TB and/or HIV/AIDS can be considered where there is high prevalence of these diseases.
NATIONAL CAPACITY FOR PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF DIABETES
National capacity to prevent and control diabetes as assessed in the 2015 NCD Country Capacity Survey varies widely by region and country income level. Most countries report having national diabetes policies, as well as national policies to reduce key risk factors and national guidelines or protocols to improve management of diabetes. In some regions and among lower income countries, however, these policies and guidelines lack funding and implementation. In general, primary health-care practitioners in low-income countries do not have access to the basic technologies needed to help people with diabetes properly manage their disease. Only one in three low- and middle-income countries report that the most basic technologies for diabetes diagnosis and management are generally available in primary health-care facilities. Many countries have conducted national population-based surveys of the prevalence of physical inactivity and overweight and obesity in the past 5 years, but fewer than half have included blood glucose measurement in these surveys.
ACCESS TO INSULIN AND OTHER ESSENTIAL MEDICINES
The lack of access to affordable insulin remains a key impediment to successful treatment and results in needless complications and premature deaths. Insulin and oral hypoglycemic agents are reported as generally available in only a minority of low-income countries. Moreover, essential medicines critical to gaining control of diabetes, such as agents to lower blood pressure and lipid levels, are frequently unavailable in low- and middle-income countries. Policy and program interventions are needed to improve equitable access.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This first WHO Global report on diabetes underscores the enormous scale of the diabetes problem, and also the potential to reverse current trends. The political basis for concerted action to address diabetes is there, woven into the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations Political Declaration on NCDs, and the WHO NCD Global Action Plan. Where built upon, these foundations will catalyze action by all. Countries can take a series of actions, in line with the objectives of the WHO NCD Global Action Plan 2013–2020, to reduce the impact of diabetes: Establish national mechanisms such as high-level multisectoral commissions to ensure political commitment, resource allocation, effective leadership and advocacy for an integrated NCD response, with specific attention to diabetes. Build the capacity of ministries of health to exercise a strategic leadership role, engaging stakeholders across sectors and society. Set national targets and indicators to foster accountability. Ensure that national policies and plans addressing diabetes are fully funded and implemented. Prioritize actions to prevent people becoming overweight and obese, beginning before birth and in early childhood. Implement policies and program to promote breastfeeding and the consumption of healthy foods and to discourage the consumption of unhealthy foods, such as sugary sodas. Create supportive built and social environments for physical activity. A combination of fiscal policies, legislation, changes to the environment and raising awareness of health risks works best for promoting healthier diets and physical activity at the necessary scale. Strengthen the health system response to NCDs, including diabetes, particularly at primary care level. Implement guidelines and protocols to improve diagnosis and management of diabetes in primary health care. Establish policies and programs to ensure equitable access to essential technologies for diagnosis and management. Make essential medicines such as human insulin available and affordable to all who need them. Address key gaps in the diabetes knowledge base. Outcome evaluations of innovative programs intended to change behavior are a particular need. y Strengthen national capacity to collect, analyze and use representative data on the burden and trends of diabetes and its key risk factors. Develop, maintain and strengthen a diabetes registry if feasible and sustainable. There are no simple solutions for addressing diabetes but coordinated, multicomponent intervention can make a significant difference. Everyone can play a role in reducing the impact of all forms of diabetes. Governments, health-care providers, people with diabetes, civil society, food producers and manufacturers and suppliers of medicines and technology are all stakeholders. Collectively, they can make a significant contribution to halt the rise in diabetes and improve the lives of those living with the disease.
For more information, please visit the World Health Organization(WHO) at : who.int/diabetes/global-report/en/, the American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org and the CDC at www.cdc.gov/diabetes/home/.