New Delhi, Nov 13: Families which know the symptoms and complications of diabetes are best positioned to prevent it, WHO said Tuesday, asserting that health authorities should harness the capacity as about 91 million people in the South-East Asia Region live with the disease. World Diabetes Day 2018: 5 Reasons Why This Year’s Theme ‘The Family and Diabetes’ is Important.
On the eve of World Diabetes Day, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia Poonam Khetrapal Singh said the global health body will continue to support all member states to empower families to tackle diabetes head-on and ensure they can do so effectively everywhere.
"Families that know the signs, symptoms, risks and complications of diabetes are best positioned to prevent the disease and seek medical care to manage it," she said.
"Health authorities regionwide should harness this capacity given an estimated 91 million people in the WHO South-East Asia Region live with diabetes, with around 49 million unaware of their condition," she said.
Singh noted that undiagnosed or poorly controlled diabetes type 1 and type 2 can cause heart, kidney, nerve and eye damage, as well as premature death. Symptoms, Causes and Treatment of The Health Condition Caused By High Blood Sugar.
Singh said families provide a ready-made means to instil healthy habits that last a lifetime, dramatically reducing the risk of diabetes type 2, which accounts for the majority of such cases.
"They can also help ensure that the disease is detected and managed effectively. Doing so will avoid complications and the costs it results in for individuals, families, communities and countries," Singh said.
WHO's South-East Asia Region comprises Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
As part of the region's flagship priority to tackle noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), to which diabetes is a major contributor, member states can empower families to address the disease and enhance health outcomes, Singh said.
"That should occur at the same time as increasing access to services for diabetes and other NCDs at the primary healthcare level, as outlined in the Colombo Declaration adopted region-wide in 2016. There are several ways to do this," Singh said.
The WHO regional director said health authorities should ensure all families have access to educational resources that help them better understand diabetes.
"To enable this, health authorities can work across sectors to increase the access individuals and families have to healthy environments," she said.
Creation of green spaces and outdoor gyms in urban areas can facilitate exercise, she said.
"So too can policies to decrease the amount of sugar and fat in foods and enhance people's ability to make healthier choices," she said.
All families should have access to affordable diabetes medicines, medical products and care, she said, noting this starts with ensuring services at the primary level are equipped to detect the disease and that a reliable supply of medicines and medical products used to manage it are on hand.
"Each of the region's member states are dedicated to implementing National Multisectoral Action Plans to tackle NCDs and to prevent, treat and beat diabetes, including by applying the WHO Package of essential noncommunicable disease interventions (WHO PEN) at the primary level.
"This is commendable. WHO will continue to support all member states empower families to tackle diabetes head-on, and to ensure all families everywhere can do so effectively," she said.