Adopting healthy living practices called key to tackling diabetes

Diabetes is a significant threat to public health in Myanmar.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated over 463 million people in the world suffer from diabetes in 2020. An estimated over 4.2 million deaths were caused by diabetes every year.
The STEPS Survey conducted by WHO in 2014 on the prevalence of diabetes in Myanmar reported that prevalence of diabetes in our country is 10.5% for the adult population aged between 15 and 64 years, with 19.7 per cent deaths.
Cases of chronic diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes, are increasingly being diagnosed in Myanmar, according to research findings.
There are over 10,000 community clinics in regions and states providing free test for diabetes and hypertension every Wednesday.
From May, 2017 to June, 2020, the clinics diagnosed over 40,000 diabetes cases and over 88,000 hypertension cases after testing over 3.2 million people nationwide.
The COVID-19 virus is potentially deadly, especially for the elderly and those with chronic diseases. In Myanmar, about 94 per cent of the people who died of coronavirus infection have chronic diseases. Of the deaths, 24 per cent are found with diabetes, 30 per cent with hypertension and 19 per cent with both diabetes and hypertension.
Hence, the role of the public health department and its health professional support staff is crucial in fighting non-communicable diseases such as diabetes.
Besides, we must strengthen current efforts to ensure the delivery of public health care, because if public health services provide good care, then people will need treatment less frequently at the hospital.
Also, the fewer the number of patients at the hospital, the greater will be the quality of medical care that could be given to each patient in the hospital.
Also, it was found that healthy living practices were rarely practiced among the public. Instead, smoking, chewing betel quid, drinking liquor and other habits which can harm health, are widely seen among the general public.
When it comes to disease prevention through physical activity and fitness, there is weakness in providing all families with access to educational resources on diabetes.
This can be done via social and behavioral change campaigns that highlight the family unit’s role as a first line of defense. This is particularly important given most diabetes cases are type 2, meaning they can be avoided by healthy eating habits and adequate physical activity.
Hence, apart from the strategy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, ways should be found to enforce the current response to COVID-19 to ensure that no one is left behind in receiving proper health care, amidst the ongoing pandemic.

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