Diabetes mellitus, the prevalence of which is reaching epidemic proportions in many parts of the world, is an increasingly important public health concern. It is estimated that currently some 194 million people worldwide, or 5.1% in the adult population, have diabetes and that this will increase to 333 million, or 6.3%, by 2025.(IDF Atlas)
Although the prevalence of diabetes is higher in developed countries than in developing countries and is expected to remain so until 2025, the developing world will bear the brunt of the escalating epidemic in the future.
By the year 2025 the number of persons with diabetes is expected to increase in developed countries by 41%, from 51 to 72 million, and by 170% in developing countries, from 84 to 228 million if successful strategies are not implemented for its prevention and control.
In fact by 2025, approximately 75% of all persons with diabetes will be living in developing countries. (IDF)
Because of its chronic nature, the severity of its complications and the means required to control them, diabetes is a costly disease, not only for the affected individual and his/her family, but also for the health authorities. Given the morbidity and mortality statistics, it is not surprising that the economic burden of diabetes is staggering.
According to the WHO/EMRO data, over 17 million persons have diabetes in the East Mediterranean Region and by 2025, it is predicted that these number will increase to 30 million. Diabetic associations and regional organizations have realized the need for action for comprehensive strategies to address the problem of diabetes in the Eastern Mediterranean and African region.
The ongoing diabetes epidemic is a worldwide problem that will benefit greatly from worldwide efforts to collaborate and improve the quality of diabetes care and education.