Saturday saw the Pakistan Endocrine Society (PES) take a significant step towards combating the diabetes epidemic in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by launching guidelines for standardized treatment of the condition. According to PES office-bearers, approximately 7.5 million people in the region currently have diabetes, while an equal number are at risk with prediabetes, a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet at the level of type 2 diabetes.
During a news conference in Peshawar, Dr. Ibrar Ahmed, the President of PES, highlighted the concerning trend of young adults between 20 to 40 years of age being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Factors contributing to this rise include sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy diets, sugary beverage consumption, and physical inactivity.
The guidelines aim to promote uniformity in the treatment of diabetes across Pakistan, reaching 35 cities, and ultimately preventing disability and premature deaths associated with the condition. Dr. Ahmed emphasized that these guidelines are tailored to Pakistan’s socio-economic conditions, ensuring that the majority of individuals can afford the treatment and medication required for managing diabetes effectively.
The PES further asserted that diabetes can be treated with cost-effective measures such as lifestyle modifications and inexpensive medicines. To enable widespread adherence to these guidelines, the PES plans to train doctors across the country through experts and consultants to ensure optimal diabetes management.
Renowned diabetologist and PES patron, Prof. AH Amir, stressed that the guidelines would play a crucial role in preventing disability and premature deaths among the 33 million people living with type 2 diabetes in Pakistan. As access to specialized diabetologists and endocrinologists may be limited for many individuals, these guidelines will empower general practitioners and internal medicine physicians to treat diabetes in line with international best practices.
When questioned, Prof. Amir acknowledged that diabetes could be reversed through significant weight loss of 15 to 20 kilograms, but he acknowledged that such an endeavor requires immense willpower. However, for those unable to achieve such weight loss, a combination of medication and lifestyle modifications can effectively control the condition and reduce its complications.
Dr. Suleman Elahi Malik from Khyber Teaching Hospital Peshawar stressed the importance of patient education on lifestyle modification for diabetes management. This includes adopting a low-calorie diet, engaging in 30-40 minutes of daily physical activity, and adhering to the physician’s directives regarding medication.
The launch of the treatment guidelines for type 2 diabetes took place in various cities across Pakistan, with training sessions held for general practitioners and others in Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Kashmir, and Gilgit Baltistan. With the combined efforts of healthcare professionals and patients, it is hoped that the guidelines will lead to better diabetes management and improve the lives of millions of people affected by the condition throughout the country.