Governments to be swamped by costs of treating diabetes

World Diabetes day to be marked in Israel on Tuesday

November 16, 2015 05:23
2 minute read.
Doctor and patient

Doctor and patient (illustrative).. (photo credit: INGIMAGE)

The treatment of diabetes threatens to cause havoc with national healthcare budgets around the world, including Israel, which will on Tuesday mark World Diabetes Day (which was noted in the rest of the world on November 14, which was Shabbat). Nearly $670 billion was spent last year around the world for treating diabetes patients.

About 11 percent of Israel’s population suffers either from type-2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, which if not treated with exercise and proper diet will lead to full-blown diabetes.

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A special day of Internet broadcasting, in cooperation with the Education Ministry and the Center for Educational Technology, will be held on Tuesday. Prof. Ehud Ziv, a diabetologist at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, will answer questions, along with Dr. Fuad Mussa, a family medicine specialist from Nazareth, who will speak in Arabic. Questions can be posed via Facebook.

CET introduced at the start of the year a biology course that is presented in schools and explains the biological basis of diabetes and presents interactive challenges for pupils.

There are 415 million diabetic adults, plus 318 million more with pre-diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Federation. Most Western countries spend 20% of their healthcare budgets treating the disease, according to the federation, which held a conference in Brussels Thursday. Among the complications of uncontrolled blood sugar are blindness, possible amputation, stroke, heart disease and damage to the kidneys and nerves.

The federation called on governments to focus on the risk factors and adopt a fiscal policy to discourage the consumption of sugar and other simple carbohydrates by taxing them. The Middle East, North Africa and the Americas are at highest risk for diabetes. The federation fears that by 2040, one out of eight adults will have diabetes. In Southeast Asia today, a quarter of all fetuses are affected by gestational diabetes, which can cause complications after birth and cause the mother to develop type 2 diabetes years later.

Meanwhile, Ben-Gurion University has conducted the first study of its kind on the cognitive functioning of diabetics suffering from diabetic foot, which involves ulcers, infections and neurological damage that can lead to amputation.

The researchers wanted to understand what can create behavior that will prevent the complications.

It was conducted in Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba and Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. Almost 100 patients with diabetic food and 95 diabetics without the complication underwent neuropsychological assessment.

Dr. Rahel Natovitz of Soroka and Prof. Telma Kushnir of BGU, who conducted the study, received prizes for it from Clalit Health Services and the American Diabetes Association at its recent international conference in Boston.

A quarter of diabetics will develop diabetic foot during their lives, with 20% developing a foot ulcer leading to amputation and half of them having to undergo a second amputation within five years. The mortality rate is 39% to 69%. But one can prevent it by lowering blood sugar, improving foot hygiene and other means. The cognitive abilities of diabetics with diabetic foot are significantly lower than those of diabetics without it. Their memory is poorer, they have difficulty learning and their reactions are slower.

The researchers concluded that much must be done to prevent diabetics from declining and contracting diabetic foot.

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