December 13, 2019
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    World Diabetes Day commemorates on Wednesday

    November 11, 2018

    “We need to work together to win the war against diabetes,” stressed the Director-General (DG) of Health Services, Dr. Anil Jasinghe, flexing his muscles along with top doctors in the field representing the Health Ministry’s Non-communicable Disease (NCD) Bureau, the Sri Lanka College of Endocrinologists (SLCE) and the Sri Lanka Diabetes Federation (SLDF).With World Diabetes Day being commemorated on Wednesday (November 14), Sri Lanka will get into gear on the important theme of ‘Family and Diabetes’ today (November 11).

    Dr. Jasinghe said that next year the primary healthcare programme will be strengthened with the grassroot level small institutions being injected with vigour and the doctors based there becoming ‘family doctors’. There are structural changes being carried out to the primary healthcare programme as Sri Lanka is in transition – demographically, epidemiologically and also socio-economically, with disease patterns changing.

    Earlier, dangers came from communicable diseases (CDs) and Sri Lanka achieved much in overcoming them but now the onslaught is from NCDs, said the DG, adding that the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) is that we need to target diabetes and other NCDs. This is what Sri Lanka is hoping to achieve through the ‘Essential Service Package’ to be delivered through the revamped primary healthcare programme.

    “The ‘Family and Diabetes’ theme is very apt for Sri Lanka,” SLDF President Dr. Prasad Katulanda pointed out, explaining that there has been a rapid rise in the prevalence of diabetes in the country in the last two decades. With people living within families, it is important for all members to be aware of a healthy lifestyle which includes diet and exercise. While prevention is crucial, there is a need for people to be aware of their status – whether pre-diabetic or not or diabetic or not — and ensure that they manage their condition with proper medical guidance and lifestyle changes.

    This is why an ambitious national level diabetes screening programme is to be launched to screen at least 50,000 previously undiagnosed people. This will be followed up by providing those with diabetes, guidance on management of their condition and those at high risk (impaired fasting glucose) with lifestyle advice for disease prevention.

    Both a study conducted in Colombo a few years ago and an on-going study are showing the prevalence of diabetes to be more than 25% (1 in 5 people) in Colombo, underscores Dr. Katulanda.
    Raising clenched fists, the group of doctors and Lions vow to battle and defeat diabetes during the media briefing held on Wednesday.

    The statistics speak for themselves:
    Type-2 diabetes is the 5th leading cause of death worldwide.
    1 in 2 people currently living with diabetes is undiagnosed in the world.
    More than 425 million people worldwide are currently living with diabetes.
    Diabetes is a major contributor to the development of coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease and end-stage renal failure.
    According to Dr. Katulanda if urgent action is not taken diabetes will become a major health crisis in Sri Lanka. This is why they are planning concerted action along with the Lions Clubs International District 306 to make people aware of the importance of getting themselves screened.
    Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable through regular physical activity, a healthy and balanced diet and healthy living environments. Families have a key role to play in addressing the modifiable risk factors for Type 2 diabetes and must be provided with the education, resources and environments to live a healthy lifestyle, it is learnt.

    Regression possible

    Dubbing it a “diabetes tsunami”, the President of the Sri Lanka College of Endocrinologists, Dr. Manilka Sumanatilleke expressed grave concern over the fact that doctors are now seeing youth in the age group 18-20 years being afflicted by it. Urgent population measures are needed to meet this disaster and people should cooperate to curb this disease.

    He held out a ray of hope when he said that if diagnosed early, medications are taken scrupulously along with a healthy diet and an exercise regimen, Type 2 diabetes could be reversible. “In some, there has been a regression of diabetes,” added Dr. Sumanatilleke.




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