460 million people worldwide live with diabetes, millions more at risk: WHO

Over a 100 years after the discovery of insulin, millions of people with diabetes around the world still cannot access the care they need, risking severe health complications, the World Health Organization warned on Tuesday’s World Diabetes Day.

A patient at risk of diabetes receives a special eye exam at the National Centre for Diabetes in Amman, Jordan.Photo Courtesy: WHO/Panos/Tania Habjouqa

Diabetes is a chronic disease which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.

WHO said that more than 460 million people worldwide live with diabetes and millions more are at risk.

The UN health agency stressed that people with the condition require ongoing care and support to manage it and avoid complications, which can include blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and lower limb amputation.

While type 1 diabetes is not preventable, maintaining a healthy diet, physical activity and avoiding tobacco use can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.

WHO warned that the global prevalence of the disease has nearly doubled since 1980, rising from 4.7 per cent to 8.5 per cent in the adult population.

The UN health agency said that this reflects an increase in associated risk factors such as being overweight or obese. Over the past decade, diabetes prevalence has risen faster in low and middle-income countries than in high-income countries.