Millions of people in the world have diabetes but are undiagnosed, new data suggests

by Sarita Sheth on November 15, 2012

Rising number of undiagnosed diabetes cases is a global concern

Some 371 million people in the world have diabetes and 187 million are still to be diagnosed, according to new estimates released by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).

The high number of undiagnosed diabetes cases means that millions of people are at risk of costly and debilitating diabetes complications including nerve and kidney disease, it says.

Previous estimates from the IDF Diabetes Atlas in 2011 put the number of people with diabetes at 366 million and the number of deaths at four million.

The 2012 figures show that the upward trend will continue. By the end of the year 4.8 million people will have died from diabetes related complications. Half of these deaths will be in people under the age of 60.

‘As millions of undiagnosed people develop diabetes complications we can expect to see the mortality rate climb,’ said Jean Claude Mbanya, president of the International Diabetes Federation.

‘We want to raise awareness that this disease can be controlled and in some cases prevented,’ he added.

Other findings from the Diabetes Atlas 2012 Update show that $US471 billion were spent on diabetes in 2012 compared to $US465 billion in 2011 and four out of five people with diabetes live in low and middle income countries.

One out of three adults with diabetes lives in the Western Pacific, one in four of all diabetes deaths occur in South East Asia and North America spends the most healthcare dollars on diabetes. It also shows that 81% of people with diabetes in Africa are undiagnosed.

The release of these figures increases the urgency around IDF’s commitment to see diabetes and other Non communicable Diseases (NCDs) finally included in the next set of global development goals, which will take the place of the outgoing Millennium Development goals in 2015.

‘Millions of people are dying from diabetes in their most productive years,’ said Ann Keeling,chief executive officer of the IDF.

‘The stability of societies is threatened and huge economic and political burdens are imposed on countries and communities. However this disease remains marginalised on the global health and development agenda and vastly under resourced,’ she explained.

She added that it is hoped that campaigns such as World Diabetes Day will continue to raise the voice of people with diabetes and to encourage all stakeholders to move from advocacy to action on a global scale.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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