Friday, 8 June 2012

Face to face with chronic disease: Diabetes

The disease profile of the world is rapidly evolving. This is especially true in low and middle income countries where chronic diseases are creating a double burden on top of infectious diseases. As these stories will show, even least developed countries are not immune to the growing epidemics of heart disease, stroke, cancer and other chronic diseases.
Contrary to common belief, these diseases do not only affect men in high income countries: 80% of chronic disease deaths now occur in low and middle income countries and they affect men and women almost equally. Another unfortunate reality is that chronic diseases account for 60% of all deaths – corresponding to a projected 36.65 million deaths worldwide in 2007.
This series of stories is about people living with chronic diseases and common underlying risks. In a world where more and more people are dying as a result of chronic diseases, and many more millions are disabled, these stories aim to demonstrate the deep and personal impact of chronic diseases on individuals and their families.

Zahida's story: living with diabetes

Zahida Bibi is 65 years old and has been living with diabetes since she was 45.
For years, she didn't know that she had the disease. "I felt tired and dizzy all the time. I also had trouble remembering things and had to urinate a lot," she recalls.
The first time Zahida consulted a doctor at a local hospital, she was mistakenly told that her blood test was normal. After that, Zahida ignored her symptoms for eight long years before seeking medical advice again, this time in Islamabad where she has since moved with her family.
A second blood test finally confirmed diabetes. The doctor prescribed insulin and Zahida started feeling better after her first injection.
As is often true for people living with diabetes, Zahida developed serious complications that could have been avoided. She didn't seek treatment for an ulcer on her foot and as a result, one of her legs was amputated below the knee.
"The doctor told me that it was connected with diabetes and that I waited too long to seek attention."
Zahida holds the local hospital responsible for not spotting the raised blood glucose in the first place. But she also knows she should have reported the lesion on her foot to her doctor much sooner.
Today, with the help of her family, Zahida is slowly recovering at home from the physical and emotional effects of surgery.
Like other chronic diseases, type 2 diabetes — and many of the complications of diabetes that can lead to amputation — can be prevented.
More than three-quarters of diabetes-related deaths occur in low and middle income countries.
Source: WHO

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