Preventive measures urged to check spread of diabetes

KARACHI: Experts have urged citizens to adopt preventive measures to manage diabetes by choosing a simple lifestyle, daily exercise, walking, balanced diet and avoiding excessive sugar intake and smoking.

They also said that the modern technology and lifestyle were amongst the main factors in spread of the disease.

They were speaking at 25th International Children’s Health Conference jointly organized by Hamdard Public School and Hamdard Foundation Pakistan in connection with the World Health Organization (W.H.O.)’s theme for the 2016 “Beat diabetes” on the occasion of World Health Day 2016, which was presided over by Dr Sara Salman, head of WHO Sindh at a local hotel.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Guest of the conference and renowned Diabetologist, Dr Fatema Jawad said that there were approximately 7.1 million (10.7%) diabetic patients in Pakistan and the numbers would increase by 11.1% by 2020. People must be encouraged to take preventive measures against this disease and government should provide facility of awareness centres for educating people in this regard, adding that hitherto no case of child patients of diabetes could be found yet in the country, she added.

She told that there are few types of diabetes including gestational diabetes and pregnancy diabetes and usually caused by stressed; however, if people change their life style and manage balance diet, the situation could be changed in their favour.

She further told that it has been observed that majority of people have become lazy, they eat more and got obesity, resulting in diabetes and abdominal fat resists insulin, adding: ‘If diabetes is diagnosed don’t delay to consult physician, avoid fast food, burgers and chips and other junk foods, but don’t skip food and don’t eat more but eat healthy diet, walk and exercise daily and that is the pillar and principle to control diabetes.

Highlighting the threats and consequences of diabetes, she said that this disease could destroy gums and teeth, create swelling on face and foot, sever pain in body and lead to glaucoma, blindness and sudden death, she warned.

Hamdard Foundation Pakistan’s President Sadia Rashid said that quarter of a century had elapsed since Hamdard held its first international children’s health conference and that ground-breaking event – the very first conference for and by children was the result of one of the innovative ideas of Shaheed Hakim Mohammed Said in Pakistan, and was one more proof of his determination to give children’s voices a chance to be heard. Since then, it has become a tradition of Hamdard to hold this international children’s health conference, on or around World Health Day, 7th April, on the theme for that year provided by the W.H.O., she added.

‘Basically, diabetes is a disease caused when the pancreas in the body does not produce, or produces insufficient amounts of the hormone insulin. If it cannot get into the cells to be burnt to produce energy, sugar builds up to harmful levels in the blood.

Overtime, high blood sugar could compromise every major organ system in the body, causing heart attacks, strokes, nerve damage, kidney failure, blindness and infection which may lead to amputations as a medical report says that last year 40,000 people lose their legs due to diabetes in the country, she said, adding: ‘of the two types of diabetes, type 1 is rare and type 2, which accounts for 90% of the cases, is the result of insufficient insulin production or the body’s inability to use it properly’.

She said the modern technology and the lifestyle were the main factors in the growth rate of the disease. The car has reduced people’s need to walk and television has replaced the necessity of more physical forms of entertainment as children are more occupied with watching cartoon or playing video games, resulting diabetes among juveniles, she added.

‘Research continues, not just for medicine, but also monitoring devices, but the best weapons are still simple: Sensible food in sensible quantities; and sufficient exercise to tone the muscles and burn the calories consumed,’ she said, adding: Let us all vow to take the ‘die’ out of diabetes!

Dr. Sara Salman in her presidential address said that every year the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) selected a priority area of global public concern as the theme of World Health Day, which fell on 7th April, the birthday of organization.

‘The theme of WHD 2016 is ‘Let us beat the diabetes’ which is characterized by elevated blood glucose levels. Today 422 million adults have been affected in the world four times more than in 1980 and this disease was rising fastest in the world’s low and middle income countries and Pakistan was one of them and in 2012 where diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths.

‘Most diabetes is type -2 diabetes, largely caused by unhealthy eating and lack of physical activity. Healthy eating and lifestyle habits are a strong defense against disease. On the World Health Day W.H.O. is calling for two pronged approach: Interventions to prevent diabetes and interventions to manage diabetes’, she said, adding: ‘Dr. Ala Alwan, WHO regional director for Eastern Mediterranean region says: “Actions are needed both by the government and people themselves”.

She said, while individuals are needed to take responsibility for their own health through maintaining a healthy lifestyle, governments are responsible for creating environments that promoted healthy living and for establishing measures that could reduce the exposure of the population to risk behaviour that could lead to diabetes. WHD 2016’s focus on diabetes would further raise awareness about challenges posed by diabetes and increase political commitment to prevention, management and surveillance of diabetes, she added.

She congratulated Hamdard Foundation for arranging the important event and sensitizing present and new generation about this important health matter.

She also congratulated the two students of Hamdard Public School – Faizan and Eresha Nadeem who won the WHO poster competitions respectively in 2015 and 2016 and gave away them Certificates. She also congratulated the young speakers on their participation and delivering the good speeches.

She assured that WHO is there to provide technical support to the people of Pakistan in controlling the threat of diabetes.

The conference was attended by a large number of students, WHO’s officials and Young speakers from Iran, Germany, Japan and Turkey and from major cities of Pakistan.