Diabetes: A Global Epidemic

High rates of diabetes have typically been associated wealthy nations. Not any more.

* Every 30 seconds, a leg is lost to diabetes somewhere in the world (Lancet vol. 366, no. 9498).

* Every minute, six people lose their lives to diabetes.

The occurrence of the disease in poorer countries is dramatically increasing. The number of cases in poor countries is expected to increase by 50% by 2030. In India, for example, the number of people with diabetes is set to rise to 80 million by 2030, up from 32 million today. Its incidence is difficult to measure, particularly in the developing world, due to a lack of research in this field. In rich countries, diabetes affects mainly older people, but in poorer countries its incidence is rising among younger people.

The World Report on Disability (WHO/World Bank, 2011), the first of its kind, estimated that noncommunicable diseases (diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and chronic respiratory illnesses) account for 66.5% of all years lived with disability in low-income and middle-income countries. Diabetes is now one of the world's major causes of disability.

A Major Economic Impact
In 2009, the International Diabetes Federation estimated that healthcare expenditures on diabetes would account for 11.6% of the total healthcare expenditure in the world in 2010. There is, however, a large disparity in healthcare spending on diabetes between regions and countries. More than 80% of the global expenditures on diabetes are made in the world's economically richest countries, not in the low- and middle-income countries where 70% of people with diabetes will soon live.

The World Health Organization (WHO) predicted net losses in national income from diabetes and cardiovascular disease of $557.7 billion in China,$ 303.2 billion in the Russian Federation, $336.6 billion in India, $49.2 billion in Brazil, and $ 2.5 billion in Tanzania between 2005 and 2015.

Handicap International launched its battle against diabetes in 2006.
The organization launched several integrated projects to respond to this emerging phenomenon. Our approach centers on disease prevention and, for people already suffering from diabetes, on reducing the onset of disabling complications. 

To prevent complications from diabetes, the organization's actions aim to
* improve the equipment and organization of primary and community health systems, such as health clinics;
* build the capacities of health professionals (nurses, doctors, etc.) through training in prevention, diagnostics, patient education, and medical follow-up.
* Strengthen civil society by helping to set up support groups for people with diabetes where they can share experiences, learn more about the disease, provide each other with mutual support, and advocate better access to health services.

To manage the complications of diabetes, Handicap International primarily focuses on capacity-building for professional pedorthists and orthoprosthesists to case-manage diabetic foot and amputations.

Handicap International advocates with local authorities to include non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, in national and local health policies. More information on Handicap International's diabetes programs can be found here.

In 2011, in Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, the Philippines, and Nicaragua:
* More than 87,000 people benefited from Handicap International's prevention and awareness programs.
* More than 70,700 people benefited from medical case-management and access to care.
* Around 4,000 health professionals and workers benefited from training.