UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said diabetes now causes some 1.5 million deaths a year, and called for healthier lifestyles on this year’s World Health Day.
Diabetes is an ancient disease that is taking a growing toll on the modern world, Xinhua quoted Ban as saying in his message to mark the day.
Ban said that in 1980, 108 million adults were living with diabetes. By 2014, that number had risen to 422 million — 8.5 percent of adults — reflecting a global increase in risk factors such as being overweight or obese.
“Even though we have the tools to prevent and treat it, diabetes now causes some 1.5 million deaths a year. High blood glucose causes an additional 2.2 million deaths,” he noted.
The UN secretary-general also pointed out that “the burden of diabetes is not equally shared, within or between countries. People in low- and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected, but wherever we find poverty we also find disease and premature deaths.”
“We can limit the spread and impact of diabetes by promoting and adopting healthier lifestyles, especially among young people,” he said. “We must also improve diabetes diagnosis and access to essential medicines such as insulin.”
To do this, Ban underlined the cooperation among governments, healthcare providers, people with diabetes, civil society, food producers and manufacturers and suppliers of medicines and technology, saying that they must all contribute to changing the status quo.
Ban called for global efforts to “halt the rise in diabetes and improve the lives of those living with this dangerous but preventable and treatable disease”.
Last year, governments adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, which include the target of reducing premature mortality from non-communicable diseases, which include diabetes, by one-third. The theme of this year’s World Health Day was “beat diabetes”.