WHO (World Health Organization) suggests strengthening primary health care, developing open outdoor gyms, creating more green spaces and empowering families to deal with increasing number of Diabetes cases. WHO listed out these measures to its member countries in South East Asia. These few factors also go beyond the health sector and so WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh emphasized that health authorities should act as nodal agencies, working across sectors to find high-impact solutions that also reduce health care costs.
Singh estimated that 91 million people in the South East Asia region have Diabetes and around 49 million, more than half are unaware of their condition.
As a section of the region’s primary healthcare approach in tackling Diabetes, families must also be empowered to act as they have an important role in creating awareness of the risks of diabetes, she suggested. The reason being that the family plays a key role as it is the first to identify diabetes’ signs, symptoms, risks and complications. When complemented by access to quality primary health care, families are an important asset in the battle against diabetes, she added.
Dr. Poonam also acknowledged that families can be made aware via social and behavioral change campaigns to highlight their role as a first line of defense. Campaigns should also outline how families can work together to develop healthy eating habits.
A particularly important part here is that given that most diabetes cases are type 2, which simply means they can be avoided by healthy eating and adequate physical activity, Singh stated. The creation of green spaces and outdoor gyms will facilitate weight management and encourage people to involve in physical activities.
The Importance of Primary Healthcare
Dr. Khetarpal highlighted that all families should have access to quality primary health care. Affordability and availability is an important aspect. Primary-level services must be equipped to detect diabetes, including the high and rising incidence of pre-diabetes cases. A reliable supply of quality medicines and related medical products that can help manage cases should be made readily available.
Each of the interventions outlined in the Colombo Declaration on accelerating the delivery of non-communicable diseases (NCD) services at primary level, which the region adopted in 2016 should be completely implemented.
Undiagnosed or poorly-controlled type 1 or type 2 Diabetes can lead to heart, kidney, nerve or eye damage. It can also lead to premature death, which in the region accounts for just under 50 percent of all deaths caused by NCDs. Preventing and controlling NCDs is one of the region’s eight flagship priorities.
The region’s member states are taking decisive action. All countries have developed national multi-sectoral NCD action plans and each plan contains specific interventions to tackle diabetes. Their roll-out has occurred alongside member state efforts to strengthen primary-level NCD services, which will also help the region achieve its flagship priority on universal health coverage.
India is home to 77 million Diabetics, second highest in the world, and by 2-25, it is expected to take the lead. One in six people with Diabetes in the world is from India. The country should focus on multi-dimensional approaches, and prevention activities to reduce these numbers.