KARACHI: Wasim Akram, the former Captain of Pakistan’s Cricket Team and famed fast-bowler, showed concern over the rapid increase in diabetes cases all over Pakistan while speaking at the National Association of Diabetes Educators Pakistan (NADEP) Diabetes Foot Con 2021 in Karachi.
Experts, including endocrinologists, diabetologists, internal medicine experts and others, came from Pakistan and beyond to speak at the conference. Officials from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), World Health Organization (WHO), and other organisations also attended the conference, focusing on preventing amputations due to diabetes.
“I have learnt that Pakistan has become the third country with the highest number of diabetics in the world, and it is a serious cause of concern. If we have to survive as a nation and continue to perform as a healthy, sporting nation, we would have to change our lifestyle, exercise daily and get rid of unhealthy food,” said Mr Wasim, who is the brand ambassador of The Health Bank (THB).
The fast-bowler visited the THB stall at the conference, stating that he was using the services of the tech-enabled global health management company to monitor his health, especially his diabetes status. He added that they have also got his genome mapping done to ascertain which foods are suitable for him to live a healthy life with diabetes.
Mr Wasim told parents would have to become role models for their children and adopt the habit of getting up and sleeping early, exercising daily, eating less and avoiding junk and unhealthy food, making them fat and causing diabetes.
He maintained that most Pakistanis are still not aware of what causes diabetes and urged the electronic media to promote healthy habits and a balanced diet. In a country with over 30 million diabetics, he emphasised how important it is for people to be educated on the management and prevention of the disease.
Prof. Abdul Basit, the Secretary-General of the Diabetic Association of Pakistan (DAP), disclosed that around two hundred thousand people in Pakistan lose their feet annually due to diabetic foot ulcers. Over five million people do not have access to diabetes care in the country.
“Around five million people diagnosed with diabetes don’t have access to diabetes care in Pakistan. Of them, two million develop foot ulcers. Of those two million, 10 per cent, or nearly 200,000 people, have to go through amputation due to the diabetic foot ulcers, a preventable issue.” said Prof Abdul, as he addressed the inaugural ceremony of the International Diabetes Conference.
Prof. Basit maintained that around 10 million diabetics in Pakistan were unfortunately unaware of their health condition and did not know that they could die due to complications.
“Hardly five per cent of Pakistani diabetics have access to standardised treatment and diabetes care in Pakistan, which is extremely disappointing. Billions of rupees are being spent on the creation of tertiary-care hospitals and health facilities. However, we need primary healthcare facilities and educators to reduce and prevent the prevalence of diseases like type 2 diabetes,” the endocrinologist stressed.
Sharing disturbing figures regarding diabetes in Pakistan, Prof. Basit said most of the amputations carried out in Pakistan were ‘unnecessary’ or preventable. He added that over 70 per cent of people who underwent amputation due to diabetes in the country die within five years.
“We have every fourth person who has diabetes, and if we don’t do anything, we would be having 50 per cent of our population suffering from diabetes,” he added. He urged the provincial and federal governments to spend a significant portion of their health budgets on preventing diseases, suggesting that laws be promulgated to reduce the prevalence of diabetes in the country.
Dr Zahid Miyan, the organising Secretary of the conference, said unnecessary amputations were making the lives of thousands of people miserable in Pakistan due to family dependency issues and societal judgement due to their disability. He added that these amputations could be reduced even to 1 per cent and below with the help of education and training.
“We have launched a programme to prevent amputations, and under this programme, we have trained hundreds of doctors to treat foot ulcers in Pakistan. We have invited international experts in this conference, who would be sharing their experiences to prevent foot ulcers and amputations with the help of medicines and other non-surgical interventions,” he said.
Dr Saif-ul-Haq, NADEP’s President, said the Covid-19 pandemic had apathy towards non-communicable diseases in Pakistan and other countries. He stressed the need to control diabetes, which has been killing thousands and leaving more disabled annually.