At present, a large number of people are experiencing health complications due to a sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical activities, poor nutritional habits, and substance use disorders (SUD). Among the potential diseases, diabetes mellitus is one of the most harmful and impactful developments that negatively affect the quality of life and might lead to lethal outcomes (WHO, 2021). In the world ranking, India takes second place in regard to people diagnosed with diabetes, with approximately 10% affected of the total population aged 20 to 79 (Kannan, 2019). Ultimately, diabetes mellitus is a highly prominent disease, and additional preventative measures should be implemented. The current paper classifies the disease and leading risk factors, examines economic consequences, and proposes several recommendations that might potentially improve the situation in India.
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As mentioned briefly before, diabetes mellitus is a prominent disease that affects a large number of people. In 2019, more than 1.5 million people died from health complications caused by diabetes (WHO, 2021). The two primary classifications of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2, and most affected individuals suffer from the latter (WHO, 2021). Type 2 diabetes generally implies the flawed function of insulin use caused by obesity, inactive lifestyle, and poor nutrition (WHO, 2021). Concerning health complications, diabetes significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, kidney failure, blindness and might cause neuropathy in the feet (WHO, 2021). Diabetes is specifically dangerous for older adults and increases the chance of strokes by approximately 200%-300% among the target group (WHO, 2021). Ultimately, Type 2 diabetes is a severe disease that causes a large number of health complications and primarily affects adults.
On the other hand, Type 1 diabetes is generally found in children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 and is much less studied compared to Type 2 diabetes. In the case of Type 1 diabetes, daily intake of insulin is necessary for body functioning (WHO, 2021). Furthermore, the disease poses a large number of health complications, such as weight loss, fatigue, and blurred vision, for the affected individuals and should be identified as soon as possible to minimize the negative consequences (Chiang et al., 2018). In recent years, Type 2 diabetes, which is generally considered to be an ‘adult’ disease, has become much more prominent among adolescents, which makes the differentiation of the two classifications complicated (Chiang et al., 2018). Ultimately, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes should be addressed on both the individual and governmental levels to minimize the harmful effects of the diseases.
It is vital to mention that, alongside the direct health complications caused by the disease, the affected individuals are prone to additional mental health problems. The experts have found that depression significantly prevails among diabetic subjects compared to healthy people (Poongothai et al., 2017). Poongothai et al. (2017) report the bidirectional relationship between the two diseases and confirm the necessity of a complex treatment. The authors also find that both the physical and mental health of the affected individual deteriorate rapidly under the combination of depression and diabetes (Poongothai et al., 2017). Therefore, while diabetes is a severe disease per se, it also promotes mental health problems, increasing the scope of the problem.
Risk Factors and Treatment
As mentioned briefly before, the primary risk factors leading to Type 2 diabetes are a sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, and substance use disorders, specifically tobacco addiction. Unfortunately, the urban lifestyle frequently promotes such habits due to the rapid pace of life, a large number of office occupations, and the ubiquitous accessibility of fast food and substances, namely, alcohol and tobacco. From these considerations, diabetes treatment should focus on eliminating the prevalence of the risk factors in individuals. Proper diet, physical activity, and tobacco cessation are the primary non-medical means to minimize the risk and consequences of Type 2 diabetes.
Concerning medical treatment, Type 1 diabetics require a consistent intake of insulin, while Type 2 diabetics might benefit from oral medication (WHO, 2021). Other forms of medical care include blood pressure control, foot care, retinopathy screening, blood lipid assessment, and kidney evaluation (WHO, 2021). Most of the said measures are preventative, and many experts agree that diabetes cannot be completely cured (Johnson, 2020). However, the disease can go into a remission phase with no transparent symptoms showing for more than 20 years (Johnson, 2020). Therefore, if the affected individual changes their lifestyle and is constantly monitored by the healthcare specialists, it is possible to minimize the consequences of diabetes.
Economic and Social Consequences
Diabetes presents serious economic and social consequences for both affected people and the government. At present, the Indian government has spent approximately $7 057 USD million on diabetes-related preventative measures and medical care (IDF, 2019). Compared to the United States, the number of finances invested in the treatment is about 40 times lower, while the total number of affected people is about five times higher (IDF, 2019). While the comparison is slightly distorted due to the difference in economies of the two countries, the statistics are worrying nonetheless. Ultimately, the average diabetes-related expenses per person in India are more than 100 times lower than in America, which transparently demonstrates the necessity of investing in hospitals and new technologies (IDF, 2019). Furthermore, diabetes imposes an economic burden on the affected individuals. Namely, there are direct costs, which include diagnosis and treatment, indirect costs, which concern the overall health deterioration and consequent productivity reduction, and intangible costs, which cover mental health problems and lesser quality of life (Oberoi & Kansra, 2020). Ultimately, the government should support the affected individuals by investing in the healthcare industry.
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Response to the Disease
Having acknowledged the magnitude of the problem, it is essential to propose a comprehensive plan of how to combat the disease in India. The first phase in reducing the number of affected individuals is to raise awareness concerning the risk factors and consequences of diabetes mellitus. For this purpose, the government should invest in marketing, campaigns, lectures in schools and universities, promoting health education for early intervention. In general, the Indian population demonstrates low levels of obesity; however, the ongoing shifts from rural to urban lifestyles have significantly affected the health of many citizens (Ritchie & Roser, 2017). Approximately 4% of adults have excess weight in India compared to ~25% in Europe and 36% in the US; the current statistics transparently indicate that the primary cause of diabetes in India is not obesity, but rather nutrition and lifestyle (Ritchie & Roser, 2017). As a result, the promotional campaigns need to emphasize these particular factors.
Secondly, it is necessary to improve the conditions in the hospitals and ensure accessibility to modern technologies, diagnostics instruments and invest in healthcare programs. The World Health Organization (2016) report demonstrates that most primary care facilities in India lack oral glucose tolerance and HbA1c tests and access to retinal photocoagulation, renal replacement therapies, and dilated fundus examination. In general, it implies that the methods of diagnostics and control are restricted and may lead to the failure of early detection and intervention of the disease. Thus, the second step of response to diabetes mellitus concerns investments in the healthcare industry. Ultimately, these two stages are necessary to counter the increasing tendency of diabetes prevalence in India.
Summing up, the current paper has examined the nature of diabetes mellitus, analyzed the primary symptoms and leading risk factors, discussed the potential economic consequences, and proposed recommendations on how to combat the disease in India. Having acknowledged the scope of the problem, the government should increase awareness of people concerning diabetes and invest in the healthcare industry. Ultimately, following the basic recommendations on individual and governmental levels, it is possible to terminate the increasing tendency of diabetes prominence in India.
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Kannan, R. (2019). India is home to 77 million diabetics, second highest in the world.
Oberoi, S., & Kansra, P. (2020). Economic menace of diabetes in India: A systematic review. International Journal of Diabetes in Developing Countries, 40, 464-475. Web.
Poongothai, S., Anjana, R. M., Radha, S., Sundari, B. B., Rani, C. S. S., & Mohan, V. (2017). Epidemiology of depression and its relationship to diabetes in India. Journal of the Association of Physicians of India, 65, 60-66.
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