The World Diabetes Day is being observed every year on November 14 to create awareness among the people and the governments about this deadly disease spreading at much faster pace than any other deadly diseases. Known as a silent killer, diabetes strikes the people of all ages and races with probably no symptoms and remains with them lifelong. With all the medical advances and research for finding new drugs, global pharmaceutical industry could not find a cure to this disease. According to a recent Lancet study, China, India and USA are among the top three countries with a huge number of diabetic population. In India the numbers climbed from 11.9 million in 1980 to 64.5 million in 2014. With almost 15-20 per cent diabetic patients in India, every fifth person in the country is a diabetic. The states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat have the highest prevalence of diabetes in India and nearly 8.2 per cent of the adult male population in India suffer from diabetes whereas 6.8 per cent of adult women are diabetic. The number of diabetic deaths stands at 75,900 for Indian men aged between 30-69 years as against 51,700 women in the same age group. Diabetes, although not considered as fatal as other non-communicable diseases such as cancer and heart diseases, treatment costs are much higher and reduces productivity of patients in the later years of the disease. WHO has already warned the nations that diabetes will be the world’s seventh largest killer by 2030 unless intense and focused efforts are made by governments, communities and individuals. WHO has also urged governments to regulate marketing of unhealthy foods and impose tax on beverages containing sugar substances.
In India, the government launched an adult screening programme for diabetes and hypertension in some districts, but it had an inadequate response from the public. Unless early detection and effective treatment become a part of routinely available primary health services, the country will fail in protecting persons with diabetes from having serious complications. Obesity and kidney failures are two other associated risk factors for type-2 diabetic patients and a large number of them in the country are already facing these two health problems in the urban areas today. A comprehensive national programme involving all the state governments is called for to control the spread of this dangerous disease to more people to avoid a health emergency. Public education on prevention and appropriate treatment of diabetes should be a part of this initiative. The state governments must increase access to primary healthcare and promote educational campaigns on self-management and control besides making treatments less costly. Pharmaceutical companies also have a key role to play in such a national programme by intensifying research for drugs to cure this disease. Currently no drugs are available in the market for curing diabetes but only for controlling it.