Diabetes care falls short for most of the world’s population


A study of diabetes treatment in 55 low and middle income countries found that many of the participants with diabetes were unaware that they had the condition.

Overall, less than 5% were getting adequate drug treatments and lifestyle advice.

The researchers pooled data from nationally representative surveys that asked people what treatments they were taking to reduce blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels and what advice they had received about diet, exercise, and weight.

Diabetes medications are cheap and proven to reduce both the risk of diabetes-associated complications and the long-term costs of care.

The International Diabetes Federation notes that of the estimated 463 million adults in the world who have diabetes, almost 80% live in low and middle income countries.

DiabetesTrusted Source increases a person’s risk of a range of disabling and potentially fatal complications, including heart attack, stroke, blindness, and damage to the kidneys and nerves.

Drug treatments for the condition are cheap and proven to reduce morbidity and mortality.

However, the ability of health services in low and middle income countries to diagnose the condition and deliver these treatments is often limited. This inevitably leads to unnecessary suffering and many avoidable deaths.

Doctors at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, recently led a study to estimate the scale of the problem.

The researchers drew on data from standardized household surveys in low and middle income countries that included information on blood test results for diabetes and self-reported treatments.

They discovered that only 4.6% of people with diabetes were receiving the whole package of care that the World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source recommends for treating the condition in primary care.

While 50.5% and 41.3% of the respondents were taking drugs to lower their blood sugar and blood pressure, respectively, only 6.3% were on cholesterol-lowering medication.

Overall, 32.2% of respondents said that they had received advice on diet. Just 31.5% had received advice on weight loss, and 28.2% on exercise.