Globally diabetes is one of the biggest health concerns and in 2014 Lilly South Africa released a report estimating that by 2035, without preventative action, 592 million people will be living with the chronic disease.
The World Health Organisation found that 80 per cent of patients who live with diabetes or die from complications of diabetes, live in middle-to-lower income countries.
“It used to be seen as a lifestyle disease of the rich but it is now accepted that it is a disease that affects more the middle and lower income countries,” said Dr. Aneesa Sheik, South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa region Medical Director for Eli Lilly and Company.
Sheik believes there has been a global commitment by all countries to actually to try and slow the increase in diabetes.
“Globally diabetes is one of biggest health concerns and in terms of monetary value in 2013 it was over 500 billion US dollars of the health spending globally – about 11 per cent of the health spend in the world,” said Sheik.
The disease is so prevalent that she says every single person either knows somebody with diabetes or has come in contact with someone who has diabetes and it seems as though it is thought of quite dismissively as a lifestyle disease.
“The complications around diabetes are quite serious and we need to stop the pandemic that is happening at the moment because much more people do die of diabetes that do of HIV and AIDS annually, said Sheik.
She explains how Type I diabetes is seen in patients who are more insulin dependent and get it earlier without a real explanation or cause, however the large majority of patients are type II diabetics, which is at least 90 per cent of diabetics and is age onset diabetes which can be prevented which is why most focus is on that type.
“We cannot say that there is a particular group that is free of risk, it depends on your lifestyle and that is where the prevention strategies are being targeted – as you grow older, if your lifestyle is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle, your risk of insulin resistance increases,” the doctor said.