Diabetes: A Local Concern

الأربعاء 28 تشرين الثاني 2007

Written By: Mohammed Dalabih

Earlier this month, the world celebrated “World Diabetes Day”. Diabetes is a disease affecting blood sugar control in the body, a major cause of morbidity around the world, and with its many complications a major contributor to death.

Without getting into too many details, diabetes is of two kinds, type I and type II. Type I primarily affects children. Type II mainly affects adults, has a hereditary component and is strongly associated with poor lifestyle habits such as high fat diet, lack of exercise and stress. Type II diabetes has been increasingly appearing in childhood because of the increasing childhood obesity.

However, the question is this: How much of a local concern in diabetes? Is it less or more than the world prevalence? Are people aware of it and its associated risks? And do we have a national strategy to address the problem?

The numbers in this article are from a study about the prevalence of diabetes in Jordan conducted in 1998, more than 9 years ago.

At that time, 3 population groups from the north, south and the middle were taken, totaling 2836 subjects. The overall prevalence was found to be 13.4%. Between the ages of 60-80 the prevalence was around 25%, meaning that one out of four people in that age group had diabetes! Compared to a prevalence of 9.6% in the United States, a country with a considerably older population and a seriously poor lifestyle, one realizes how high this number is! This means that being a Jordanian is by itself a risk factor.

Furthermore, diabetes was more prevalent in the illiterate population (14% vs. 7%), an important association.

Around 50% of those who were found to have diabetes were already aware of that fact. A fairly good number compared to other countries in the region and around the world, but most had poor blood sugar control anyway. This also means that around 7% of the population is diabetic and not aware of it.

But what are we doing to address this problem? Jordan lacks any national screening program for diabetes, just like many other diseases like breast, cervical or colon cancer. It is in the best interest of the country and the individuals to screen for the disease, as managing the complications of diabetes (like heart and kidney disease and gangrene to name only a few) is much more expensive financially and emotionally. For these reasons, everyone, including the younger population must test themselves for this disease.

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