Diabetes – a major health challenge

 

Sir, – Senator Ray Butler has served an important public interest in advocating for increased vigilance in identifying persons with diabetes type 2 (“Senator loses six stone to control diabetes and avoid taking tablets”, News, July 18th).

The World Health Organization estimates that diabetes now affects more than 415 million people worldwide, rising to 640 million by 2040. The HSE has estimated that about one in 20 Irish people has type 2 diabetes, which may be underestimated, as many cases may be undiagnosed.

The publication of the HSE report last week must provide the necessary impetus to strategically plan to manage the disease in Ireland.

Diabetes accounts for 12 per cent of global health expenditure and failing to tackle prevention of the disease will not only challenge the health budget, but will have detrimental effects on persons not diagnosed early, given the serious health complications associated with the disease. Prevention and early diagnosis can reduce risks of the disease related to vascular disease and complications, which can lead to heart disease, blindness and disability. Communities must be better informed about risks related to age, gender, genetic factors, and lifestyle factors such as exercise, nutrition, obesity and smoking. Good diabetes control depends on proactive screening, health promotion and adherence to a treatment plan.

As there is no cure for diabetes, it is the case that prevention is the best outcome, and a funded public screening campaign, as recommended by Senator Butler, must be a priority on the agenda of the Minister for Health. – Yours, etc,

Prof SEAMUS COWMAN,

(RCSI),

Castleknock.

Dublin 15.