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Diabetics in India up 100% to 63m in 13 years

People with diabetes in India doubled from 32 million in 2000 to 63 million in 2013 and is projected to increase to 101.2 million in next 15 years, says the latest assessment by the World Health Organisation, raising an alarm over the need to treat and contain the condition. Public health agencies worldwide are concerned as diabetes is linked to ailments ranging from strokes to cardiovascular disease with implications in terms of a disability adjusted life.

Though mortality due to diabetes is relatively less compared to cancer and cardiac disorders, the disease imposes costs by way of medication and productivity of individuals, particularly in later years. Besides, diabetes often also creates trouble in treatment of various diseases.

Experts also pointed towards the escalating socio-economic costs due to the disease. The annual spend on account of diabetes treatment in India is pegged at Rs 1.5 lakh crore, 4.7 times the Centre’s allocation of Rs 32,000 crore on health and three-fourth of the budgeted service tax collections this fiscal.This cost is projected to rise by 20-30% every year.

The government has already initiated multisectoral approaches to tackle the rising burden of non-communicable diseases with a special focus on diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The strategy includes measures for prevention, early detection, infrastructure development and human resource. WHO has further recommended government to regulate the marketing of food to children, and insist on accurate food labeling to help consumers make decisions that can help them avoid diabetes.

According to Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director, WHO South-East Asia, taxing sugary beverages and re-investing the revenue in health promotion activities is an evidence-based intervention that makes real change. In India, around 75,900 males and 51,700 females in the age group of 30-69 years died due to diabetes in 2015, according to WHO.

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