Quetta: Diabetes is a major public health problem that is approaching epidemic proportions globally. Worldwide, the prevalence of chronic, noncommunicable diseases is increasing at an alarming rate. In two years, the number of people living with diabetes in Pakistan has increased from 19 million to 33 million In 2021, diabetes will be responsible for 400,000 deaths in the country , The annual expenditure on diabetes has increased to 2640 million US dollars in 2021 in Pakistan.
An important media workshop on “Non-communicable Diseases” was organized by Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH).PANAH General Secretary and Director Operations Mr. Sanaullah Ghmuman hosted the session.Dr Muhammad Nasimullah Director institute of Public Health Quetta ,Co-Assistant Advocate General Balochistan, Nadeem Sajjad, Registrar Health Services Academy Islamabad, Dr. Ali Nasir Bugti, Dr. Noor Qazi, Dr. Wahid Baloch, Provincial Manager USAID, Halima Bano, President Balochistan Union of Journalists Salman Ashraf , Shehzad Ali Khan, Vice Chancellor, Health Services Academy, Mr. Munawar Hussain, Consultant Food Policy Program, Global Health Advocacy Incubator, and others participated. Masood Rehman Kayani, Prof. Abdul Basit, General Secretary Diabetes Association of Pakistan, Ms. Afshan Tehseen Bajwa Chairperson National Commission on the Rights of the Child and others addressed the workshop. Journalists, representatives of civil society organizations, Lawyers and a large number of government departments attended.
Mr. Sana Ullah Ghumman, General Secretary and Director Operations of PANAH welcomed the participants and said that PANAH give awareness related to different diseases to common people and policy makers. He said that nearly 80% of deaths from Non Communicable Diseases are due to heart, diabetes, cancer and respiratory diseases. The purpose of this workshop is to sensitize the media about increasing menace of Non communicable diseases particularly diabetes, and seek support in advocating for healthy food policy to reduce morbidity and mortality. He said that Sugar sweetened Beverages (SSBs) is one of major diet related cause of obesity and these NCDs. In fact, as compared to calories from solid food, liquid calories found in SSBs are less satisfying and won’t lead to the same feeling of fullness compared to eating an equal number of solid food calories. He shared that overweight and obesity are risk factors for 13 of the 15 major types of cancer. Decreasing SSB consumption can reduce the prevalence of obesity and diet-related diseases
Mr. Munawar Hussain, Consultant Food Policy Program at Global Health Advocacy Incubators said that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), regardless of other behaviors, can lead to weight gain, overweight and obesity. There is a clear link between increased SSBs consumption and increased caloric intake. Sugars in these drinks alter the body’s metabolism, affecting insulin, cholesterol, and metabolites that cause high blood pressure and inflammation. These changes to the body increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, tooth decay, metabolic syndrome, and liver disease. He shared that a meta-analysis of 11 studies (including more than 300,000 participants) found a clear link between SSB consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes. Another meta-analysis of 8 studies (including more than 280,000 participants) found that a higher intake of SSBs was associated with a 30% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. He said that increasing tax on SSBs is evidence based strategy to reduce its consumption, obesity and associated diseases like diabetes.
Prof. Abdul Basit, General Secretary Diabetic Association of Pakistan, said that the incidence of diabetes in Pakistan has been sharply increasing. Rising cases of diabetes are a major challenge to the health of the people of Pakistan. In two years, the number of people living with diabetes in Pakistan has increased from 19 million to 33 million. Pakistan has reached to third in world ranking having highest number of people living with diabetes. The annual expenditure on diabetes has increased to 2640 million US dollars in 2021 which is a great threat to our economy. He said that Diabetic Association of Pakistan fully supports increasing tax on all types of sugary drinks. It is recommended that the tax should be imposed based on the density of the sugar for higher impact.
Shehzad Ali Khan, Vice Chancellor of the Health Services Academy, said that diet has central importance in prevention of non-communicable diseases. Correcting our diet could help significantly reducing the morbidity and mortality. High consumption of sugar, salt and fats is among the major risk factors for non-communicable diseases. He said that public awareness and policy changes are important to reduce the dietary risk factors on NCDs.
Chairperson National Commission on the Rights of the Child Afshan Tahseen Bajwa said that good nutrition is the fundamental right of the children. Unfortunately the dietary habits of children are influenced by the storm of advertisements. She mentioned that obesity and overweight in children has doubled over the last seven years which is alarming. The younger population is now diagnosed with NCDs like diabetes. She mentioned that NCRC support increasing taxes on SSBS and also suggests that the revenue generated should be spent on the good health and welfare of the children.