We can reduce the  burden of diabetes  

05Oct 2018
The Guardian
 We can reduce the  burden of diabetes  

DIABETES mellitus (DM), commonly referred to as diabetes, is a group of metabolic disorders in which there are high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period.

Symptoms of high blood sugar include frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger.  If left untreated, diabetes can cause many complications.  Acute complications can include diabetic ketoacidosis, hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state, or death.  Serious long-term complications include cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, foot ulcers, and damage to the eyes.

Diabetes is due to either the pancreas not producing enough insulin, or the cells of the body not responding properly to the insulin produced.  

Prevention and treatment involve maintaining a healthy diet, regular physical exercise, a normal body weight, and avoiding use of tobacco.  Control of blood pressure and maintaining proper foot care are important for people with the disease. As of 2015, an estimated 415 million people had diabetes worldwide. This represents 8.3 per cent of the adult population, with equal rates in both women and men. As of 2014, trends suggested the rate would continue to rise.  Diabetes at least doubles a person's risk of early death. From 2012 to 2015, approximately 1.5 to 5.0 million deaths each year resulted from diabetes.

Diabetes mellitus is a steadily growing global epidemic. The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicted that the number of people living with this disease would reach 221 million by 2010 and will further increase to 300 million by 2025 with the majority of new cases occurring in Asia and Africa In sub-Saharan Africa alone, the number of people with diabetes is projected to increase from 7 million in 2000 to 18 million in 2030, a regional increase of 161 per cent additionally, complications of diabetes mellitus are more prevalent among patients with diabetes in Africa as compared to the developed world due to late presentation, limited screening and diagnostic resources, poor glycemic control, and inadequate treatment of complications at an early stage.

Tanzania Diabetes Association (TDA) was formed 31 years ago. Today, it is the focal point for diabetes activity in Tanzania.

Currently, TDA’s core activities are policy advocacy, fundraising and capacity building.

Diabetes is therefore a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body's systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels.

In 2014, 8.5 per cent of adults aged 18 years and older had diabetes. In 2015, diabetes was the direct cause of 1.6 million deaths and in 2012 high blood glucose was the cause of another 2.2 million deaths.

Simple lifestyle measures have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of diabetes. Therefore we should achieve and maintain healthy body weight; be physically active – at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days. More activity is required for weight control;

We ought to eat a healthy diet, avoiding sugar and saturated fats intake; and

We should also avoid tobacco use – smoking increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Early diagnosis can be accomplished through relatively inexpensive testing of blood sugar.

Treatment of diabetes involves diet and physical activity along with lowering blood glucose and the levels of other known risk factors that damage blood vessels. Tobacco use cessation is also important to avoid complications.

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