KARACHI: There are currently 7.1 million diabetics in Pakistan and if measures are not taken to redress the situation, the figure is projected to rise to approximately 11.4 million by 2030.
This was stated at the 1st Sanofi International Diabetic Conference held at a local hotel. Speaking on the occasion, International Diabetes Federation (IDF) President Sir Michael Hirst pointed out that 1/8th of the global population will have diabetes or be at risk of developing diabetes by the year 2035.
“Diabetes is an increasingly serious social, economic and medical threat faced by all nations. It must specially be given high priority in the health policies of developing countries, as it is not just a health issue but a disease that hinders physical development and growth,” said Hirst, who is a former member of the British parliament and served in a ministerial capacity during Prime Minister Margret Thatcher’s tenure.
Hirst, who came to Pakistan on the personal invitation of Pakistan Diabetes Association Secretary General Prof Samad Shera, acknowledged Prof Shera’s noble work for improving the lives of diabetics and the help he has afforded the IDF in formulation of localised strategies.
“Prevention is key, as it is the only way the spread of diabetes can be contained. However, we must also focus equally on treatment and make sure that no patient, no matter in which country, dies because he or she could not get insulin,” he said.
Sharing details of various IDF projects, Hirst highlighted the ‘Life for Child’ and ‘Insulin for Life’ programmes as important humanitarian missions that have been launched in 43 countries.
He also emphasized on the vital role that the media can play in creating awareness about diabetes, explain its risks and treatment procedures. “We can easily overcome the prevalent ignorance through effective collaboration with the media,” said Hirst.
The IDF president added that Pakistan has promised all international regulatory bodies that it will ensure the availability of essential diabetes drugs. “Diabetes is not a disability and we must work together to curb its spread,” he remarked.
Responding to a question by media about whether a wild plant available in Pakistan does actually possess the ability to cure diabetes, Prof Shera stated that information has not be proven. “Over 340 plants have been identified as having blood sugar lowering properties but there has been no scientific research as yet,” he said.
Sanofi Managing Director & General Manager Tariq Wajid also addressed the conference. “The challenge is immense. We are working in partnership with various private hospitals and remain committed to improving diabetes control in Pakistan,” he said.
The finale of the conference was the launch of the KIDS project, a collaborative initiative between the IDF, DAP and Sanofi Diabetes. The project is aimed at fostering a safe and supportive school environment for children with diabetes. This will not only enable them to better manage their condition but will also prevent discrimination and increase awareness.