The prevalence of diabetes in Pakistan has exponentially increased over the past few years. It is estimated that in 2021, about 33 million adults were living with diabetes — a 70% increase since 2019 — ranking Pakistan as the 2nd most diabetic nation in South Asia. At this rate, it is predicted that 65 million people in the country will be afflicted with diabetes by 2045.
This alarming increase has forced the Pakistan Endocrine Society to launch a nationwide Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) to help millions of pre-diabetic individuals from having full-blown diabetes in the future. Through the initiative, vulnerable people will be approached through mass media and encouraged to adopt Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) to remain fit and healthy. Endocrinologists claim that 10 million people are unaware of their underlying health conditions and, since it is impossible to treat all in one lifetime, this programme will help to at least create awareness regarding the aggravating disease. Apart from self-evaluations and identification of symptoms, the disease has to do with a person’s entire lifestyle. Therefore, other relevant stakeholders such as nutritionists and fitness experts must be brought on board in order to create a holistic awareness campaign that aims to change an average working man’s lifestyle. This could include incorporating certain exercises during work hours, taking healthy snacks throughout the day, or constantly measuring blood sugar levels with and without fast. Perhaps with increased awareness, many will themselves be urged to visit doctors and experts for their ailments.
Simultaneously, pressure must be exerted on provincial health departments to regulate unhealthy raw materials and food items being used and sold in restaurants and marketplaces. Sugar is often used to enhance food taste and flavour so that customers come back for more, leading to serious eating disorders. People must realise that physical health is also tied to mental health.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2022.