Health experts sound alarm over diabetes

diabetesWith some 2.9 million people suffering from diabetes without enough care nationwide, medical experts have sounded a call of awareness to the public on how to prevent the disease they dubbed as "the silent killer."

"We should be alarmed about the worsening problem of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes. It is a silent epidemic that unjustly affects the poor," Health Secretary Francisco Duque said at the Diabetes Expo 2006 held at the Megatrade Hall 1 of SM Megamall on Saturday.

Diabetes (medically known as diabetes mellitus) is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by hyperglycemia or high blood glucose concentration.

While there is no cure for diabetes, proper actions can be taken to control glucose or sugar levels and prevent complications including diabetic retinopathy, which leads to total blindness; diabetic neuropathy, a decreased in sensation; diabetic nephropathy, damage to kidney leading to renal failure; heart diseases and stroke.

Duque said that India topped the list of countries with the greatest incidence of diabetes. The United States placed second while the Philippines ranked ninth.

He said that diabetes kills one and inflicts two every ten seconds daily. He added that if not averted, the number of cases of diabetes recorded in the country would double by 2030.

Colin Sindall, short-term professional in non-communicable diseases of the World Health Organization, named some of the best ways to prevent the disease.

He said: "The message is very simple. To prevent it, one must have a healthy weight and a healthy diet. Don't smoke and exercise regularly."

Dr. Tommy Ty Willing, Vice-President of the Philippine Diabetes Association (PDA), said that diabetes claims as many lives each year as the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, popularly known as AIDS, which is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus.

"It is just sad that people give more importance to AIDS since it is a new disease even while other diseases are just as fatal," he said.

Willing said that more than 200 million people worldwide were diagnosed to have diabetes. Every year, the number increases by six million, he added.

Duque, Sindall and Willing were part of the resource group during the expo attended by medical health organizations, pharmaceutical companies, consumer product companies, non-government organizations and other concerned individuals.

Actor Dingdong Dantes, who is the Department of Education’s spokesman for the youth and secretary-general of Gabay-Bayan, delivered a short speech on how to prevent diabetes at an early age.

The Expo was part of PDA’s activities in commemoration of the World Diabetes Day to be celebrated on November 14 with the theme "Diabetes in the Disadvantaged and the Vulnerable."

PDA President Dr. Ma. Teresa Plata-Que opened the ceremonies with words of encouragement, "Let’s bring diabetes out of the shadow! Let’s all fight diabetes."