Biopharma Steps Up as Diabetes Epidemic Goes Global
This May, the World Health Organization (WHO) named its new Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Chebreyesus, the first African to ever lead the WHO. During his candidacy, he spoke powerfully about the challenges of people trying to survive with diabetes in low- and middle-income countries, including his native Ethiopia, where the Ethiopian Diabetes Association became the nation’s first patient-based association.
Today is World Diabetes Day, and the era when the disease was primarily a “wealthy nation” problem are over. In the developing world, we are witnessing a shift, where communicable diseases such as malaria are on the decline while chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes are on the rise. An estimated 422 million adults worldwide were living with diabetes in 2014, according to the WHO. Global prevalence has nearly doubled since 1980. Shockingly, nearly nine percent of the world’s adult population is now diabetic.
Rates are rising faster in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries. The greatest global increases are in Pacific island nations, followed by the Middle East and North Africa in countries like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, according to a 2016 study. American Samoa had the highest diabetes rate in the world, with more than 30 percent of the population afflicted.
Globally, more than 11 percent of all adults with the disease live in China. Meanwhile, Pakistan, Mexico and Indonesia – where age-adjusted diabetes rates have doubled – are all now in the top 10 countries with the highest percentage of cases.
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