Nepal | February 19, 2020

Family’s role crucial in combating the disease, says WHO

• World Diabetes Day

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, November 13

World Health Organisation has suggested families to empower and strengthen primary health care to tackle rising cases of diabetes.

Issuing a press statement today, it said families had an important role in creating awareness on the risks of diabetes, including overweight and obesity. They could also instil healthy habits such as physical activity that help prevent diabetes, including its early onset, which in the South-East Asia Region was high.

Family members were often the first to identify signs, symptoms, risks and complications of diabetes. When complemented by access to quality primary health care, families were important asset in the battle against diabetes, read the statement. WHO said diabetes was significant threat to public health across the South-East Asia region. An estimated 91 million people in the region suffered from diabetes. Around 49 million people were unaware of the fact that they were living with the disease. Undiagnosed or poorly controlled type one or type two diabetes could lead to heart, kidney, nerve or eye damage. It could also lead to premature death, which in the region accounted for under 50 per cent of all deaths caused by non-communicable diseases, according to the statement.

The organisation said all families needed to have access to educational resources on diabetes, and to quality primary health care. It also said access to healthy environment had to be increased to tackle diabetes. Campaigns were required to inform how families could work together to develop healthy habits. Creation of green spaces and outdoor gyms would facilitate exercise for weight management. Efforts to discourage unhealthy food and drink and to enhance people’s ability to make healthy choices would help to tackle diabetes, stated the statement.

Health authorities needed to act as nodal agencies, working across sectors to find high-impact solutions that reduced health care costs as suggested by the statement. Health facilities had to be equipped at local level to detect diabetes, including high and rising incidence of pre-diabetes stage.

On World Diabetes Day, WHO reiterated its commitment to supporting member states to tackle diabetes via multi-sectoral, primary health care approach that empowered families, the statement read. WHO’s South-East Asia Region comprised 11 member states Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

A version of this article appears in print on November 14, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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