The number of people living with diabetes in Thailand, in the age group of 20-79 years, has risen from 3,162,400 in 2007 to 3,538,000 in 2010, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).
During the past three years 375,600 more Thais have joined the band wagon of this non communicable disease, increasing the national incidence of diabetes from 7.2% in 2007 to 7.7% in 2010. This is more than the current prevalence in India (7.1%) and China (4.5%) in the age group of 20-79 years. Thailand urgently needs to increase efforts to raise awareness of diabetes among its population in order to stem the potential of a burden epidemic.
"I don't want to call 'diabetes' as a disease actually it is Hyperglycemia, or it is the level of the high blood sugar that becomes the problem all over the world at this moment. So I think this is the big problem. We already know how to prevent ourselves from diabetes especially through better nutrition, exercise and so on. The problem is how about those who are starting to have risk of Hyperglycemia, what should they do? One thing that needs to be done is blood testing. Since diabetes now affects all ages, at some point when a person reaches age 30 they certainly need to check their blood and continue controlling the glucose level yearly" said Dr Samlee Plianbangchang, Regional Director of World Health Organization South-East Asia Region Office (WHO-SEARO) in an exclusive interview with CNS.
He said that diabetes is a condition requiring lifelong treatment, care and management which currently affects a lot of people around the world.
"Diabetes is alarming; it's happening all around the world. For developing countries, there is a need to access medication but people don't even know that they have diabetes, and the access to treatment is limited. So we have to make them aware of their condition and make it possible to access medication. Primary prevention is a very important issue as well," said Dr Samlee Plianbangchang.
He added that Thailand has had so many campaigns during the past few years such as 'Kon Thai Rai Pung' but campaigning is just only a part of it. Success or failure is up to the discipline of individual persons, he said.
"To exercise you need to have discipline, most people don't have discipline. If you're not disciplined then the campaign will not be successful. To make the campaign work out, we have to campaign for people to have discipline. I think this is very big issue" said Dr Samlee Plianbangchang.
Dr Samlee Plianbangchang stressed the need for people to take care of their health in the lead up to the World Diabetes Day, 14 November, and beyond.
"We have to take care of our health, the most important thing that we have to be concerned with is food and nutrition. Along with good exercise and enough rest, these will certainly help to prevent diabetes and other diseases. It is simple saying it but hard in terms of doing, because whoever has no discipline will not be able to work it out, to have discipline in taking care of your health is a very big issue, anyone who has not enough discipline they can never be able to do this" said Dr Samlee Plianbangchang.
The slogan of World Diabetes Day this year is 'Let's take Control of Diabetes Now,' perhaps the best way for us to start with is to have self-discipline.
Contributed by: Bobby Ramakant