AROUND 180 people are killed by diabetes every day in Thailand - or nearly eight deaths per hour - and the number of Thais living with the disease is expected to increase, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).
The information was revealed at the “Diabetes Leadership Forum” hosted by the Royal Danish Embassy, the World Diabetes Foundation and Novo Nordisk last week.
Dr Anders Dejgaard, president of the World Diabetes Foundation, cited data from the IDF about the sobering diabetes death rate in the Kingdom.
“In Thailand, the challenges are that a large number of people with diabetes don’t know they have the disease, that a large number of people with diabetes can’t efficiently control their blood sugar level and that most people fail to control risk factors well enough,” said Dr Wannee Nitiyanant, president of the Diabetes Association of Thailand under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
Today, about 6.4 per cent of the Thai adult population, or 3.2 million people, live with diabetes, Dr Wannee told the forum. She said that number was expected to increase by 1.1 million people to 4.3 million, or one in every 12 people, by 2035.
Diabetes ranks among the country’s top five serious diseases - and shares many of the same risk factors as hypertension, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Dr Chaicharn Deerochanawong, of the Endocrinology and Metabolism Unit at the Department of Medicine, said the Ministry of Public Health had estimated the total medical cost for diabetes treatment and related illnesses to have soared to Bt50 billion a year.
Dr Dejgaard described diabetes as a serious disease because it could lead to serious and costly complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, amputations of feet and legs, and early death. He said about half of all people living with diabetes were unaware they had the disease.
In order to challenge the rapid increase of diabetes as a silent but serious threat, the forum urged all relevant parties in Thailand to take action for better prevention and control of diabetes.