The disease and its complications need to be addressed and attenuated.
Diabetes is one of the most prolific chronic illnesses in the world; with devastating consequences. It is estimated that in the year 2000, over 7.5 million people died either directly from the disease or its complications (Roglic, et al. 2005: 2132). Given the human body's need to properly process and synthesize all forms of dietary sugar, an ailment such as diabetes which inhibits or prevents that process is a fundamental intrusion into the most basic health and lifestyle choices of the effected individual. Further, because the disease can also include such debilitating side effects and complications as blindness or the amputation of appendages (World Health Organization_FS 138 2002: 1), diabetes not only has a devastating impact on individuals, but also on their countries, their regions, and the world at large.
The scope of this paper is to first discuss the global epidemic that diabetes has become, and specifically focus on China and the Pacific Region. To ultimately understand the impact of diabetes in China, it will be necessary to recognize some of the suspected causal contributors of the disease, along with associated complications experienced by those with the condition. With that information as a framework for application, some ideas for the prevention of both the condition and its most invasive side effects will be discussed. This review will include the application of any region-specific recommendations regarding the Chinese population as well as general educational and preventative measures that might alleviate the suffering associated with this disease.
Diabetes: The Global Epidemic
Every year, 3.3 million people die of diabetes-related illnesses. Along with a rapid increase in socio-economic development, standard of living, and age of populations in many societies, the prevalence of diabetes increases annually. The effect of diabetes on the world's population, particularly in developing countries, is stunning. It is increasing at a dramatic rate, and the causal contributors to the complications are worldwide. As shown in the chart below, the WHO expects a dramatic increase in the incidence of diabetes over the next 25 years:
Country and Regional Data: World
Prevalence of diabetes worldwide
(Source: World Health Organization 2006)
According to one study, this life-threatening illness results in death on such a scale that statistically "one in 20 deaths is attributable to diabetes; 8,700 deaths every day; six deaths every minute" (Unwin & Marlin 2004: 27). As a public health concern, it would be difficult to imagine a more serious chronic health issue-even as much of the world's attention is focused on infectious disease. Surprisingly, the negative health impact of this chronic disease with its associated complications can rival that of the most infectious diseases in developed countries. The graph below demonstrates the prevalence and impact of chronic disease in countries classified by type. Note that in all nations except the very poorest, chronic conditions like diabetes are responsible for more deaths than any other:
(Source: World Health Organization 2005)
By 2025, most diabetics in developed countries will be 65 or over, while in developing countries most will be in the 45-64 range. (Wilfred Y, 2000) The WHO