Amman –The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified a concerning prevalence of diabetes in the Eastern Mediterranean region, where approximately 73 million adults, or one in six, are affected by the condition. This rate is the highest among all WHO regions.
According to Jordan News Agency, factors contributing to this high prevalence include unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and obesity, which are reaching alarming levels in the region. The statement highlighted the insufficient progress in addressing diabetes as a significant public health challenge. This lack of progress poses a threat to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal Target 3.4, which aims to reduce premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases by one third by 2030.
WHO underscored the necessity of equitable access to essential care, medicines, and technologies, and the importance of raising awareness about how individuals with diabetes can minimize the risk of complications? The organization emphasized that ensuring access to these resources is not only a fundamental human right but also critical for the well-being and quality of life of those living with diabetes.
Diabetes is a major global public health issue, leading to serious health complications like blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke, and lower limb amputation. From 2000 to 2019, there was a 3% increase in age-standardized mortality rates for diabetes. The mortality rate due to diabetes rose by 13% in lower-middle-income countries, and in 2019, diabetes became one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.
WHO pointed out that lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, engaging in physical activity, maintaining a healthy body weight, and avoiding tobacco, can significantly reduce the risk of diabetes and prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, which accounts for more than 95% of diabetes cases.
Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, stressed the importance of diagnosing and managing diabetes at the primary health care level for early intervention, effective management, and reducing the long-term burden of complications. He emphasized that diabetes care should empower patients, promoting better management and overall well-being.
Dr. Rana Hajjeh, Director of Program Management at WHO, highlighted the increased risk of heart attack and stroke for people with diabetes. She noted that diabetes-related end-stage renal disease prevalence is significantly higher in diabetic individuals, diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness, and neuropathy increases the risk of foot ulcers and potential limb amputation.
“Prioritizing early intervention is essential for mitigating the impact of diabetes on individuals and enhancing the overall public health impact,” Dr. Hajjeh added.