PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania — Pakistan is grappling with a worsening diabetes epidemic, with an alarming increase in the number of citizens living with diabetes, with Type II Diabetes being the most prevalent form in Pakistan. In 2021, Pakistan recorded a diabetes rate higher than any other nation, surpassing those of China and India, despite having a population approximately one-sixth the size of China and India, respectively.
An estimated 33 million Pakistanis, or 30.8% of its population, are currently living with diabetes, and an additional 26.9% are living undiagnosed, increasing the likelihood of complications and life-threatening medical emergencies such as heart attacks. Despite programs to help inform ill citizens and money that the government put forth to improve the nation’s health care infrastructure, Pakistan’s worsening Diabetes epidemic is showing no signs of slowing down, worrying health experts and putting citizens who are vulnerable or in poor health at greater risk of contracting the chronic illness.
Why is Diabetes so Prevalent in Pakistan?
Diabetes is a chronic illness that disproportionately affects people who are in poor health, live a sedentary lifestyle or live with a condition that puts them at greater risk of contracting a chronic illness such as a cardiovascular disorder. It is also common in nations with high rates of poverty or low to middle-class economic stature.
Pakistan is a nation where diseases, communicable or otherwise, are common among its citizens, particularly among those living in poverty or in overcrowded or unsanitary environments. The diabetes epidemic in Pakistan is also worsening because many people living with the condition live undiagnosed, leaving them without the knowledge necessary for effective management and leaving them with a greater risk for potentially life-threatening complications such as heart attacks.
What is Fueling Pakistan’s Worsening Diabetes Epidemic?
Factors such as lack of access to clean water and nutritious food, low vaccination rates and unsanitary living conditions among the nation’s most vulnerable populations are fueling the worsening epidemic.
While slowly improving, many factors such as the insufficient and unreliable infrastructure, still plague Pakistan’s health care system which is causing hospitals to shutter their doors permanently and leaving sick individuals with fewer options to help manage their illnesses. Hospitals are overcrowded, facilities are unsanitary, treatments are low in supply and a lack of qualified medical professionals to work in these facilities are also fueling Pakistan’s worsening diabetes epidemic.
Educational and informational materials about diabetes and how to manage the illness are severely lacking, leaving those living with diabetes without the knowledge necessary to effectively manage the disease, according to DW. Inadequate or inappropriate treatment and management for diabetes exacerbate the illness and further degrades the health of the individual living with it.
Pakistan is also grappling with a shortage of numerous essential medications. Patients are ailing as the nation struggles to import medications and supply them to hospitals and other health care facilities. Citizens who are able to access insulin struggle with high, sometimes unaffordable, payments for the medication they require to survive.
Options Available to People Living With Diabetes in Pakistan
As Pakistan’s health care infrastructure slowly rebounds, other agencies are stepping in to provide patients with treatments and other options to effectively manage their Diabetes. Dawaai, Pakistan’s leading digital health care platform, has launched its Diabetes Care Program.
The program is Pakistan’s first comprehensive diabetes management program and provides patients with solutions and treatments, including at-home test kits and one-on-one consultations, to help manage their illness more effectively.
The Diabetes Centre works to operate medical centers and treatment facilities across Pakistan that work with people who have diabetes and that provide care and treatments that are prime and reliable. The center is also Pakistan’s first hospital oriented around diabetes and all complications that stem from it.
– Nicholas DeLuca