Like a pest that just won’t go away, Diabetes has taken on the world with its brazenly insistent nature. This epidemic is in full force throughout India, where many cases are going undetected. Diets rich in starches such as polished white rice (a staple in the Indian diet) combined with the sedentary lifestyle of the growing urban work force in India has contributed to this growing problem. While advances in healthcare has allowed for earlier predictors of Diabetes through glucose screenings, it’s clear many fall through the net. It has been estimated that almost 63 million Indians suffer from Diabetes but many cases are predicted to be undiagnosed, making the untold number almost 5 times that amount.
Indians suffer on average 10-15 years earlier from Diabetes than those in the West, allowing chronic complications of the kidneys, eyes, and nervous system to develop. Even if all cases were reported, the question lies in the ability to effectively treat the disease. Are there enough medical professionals, services, and care available to treat all those suffering from Diabetes in India? Its unclear but likely improbable a country short-staffed in medical resources can handle the burden of the growing Diabetic population. Shortages of resources stronghold the nation in making progress on this dire issue which takes an alarming toll not only on city, but rural dwellers like those in Wayanad.
Contrary to popular belief, Diabetes affects 34 million people in rural India compared to the 24 million it affects in the urban population. It is likely that rural districts like Wayanad have untold accounts of Diabetes that will not receive the medical attention it deserves unless resources are allocated and outreach is initiated. Yet there are measures we can take to tackle the problem. While the brunt of India’s solution will require more clinics and doctors performing screenings and providing treatment, managing risk factors can cause drastic improvements moving forward. So how do we manage Diabetes in India?
For starters, let’s encourage education on the topic. Be aware of your risk as an Asian from India and do your best to fight for your right to lead a healthy life, which would include:
1. Limit white rice. Eat roti or chapattis instead with your curry for dinner.
2. Exercise. Walk to the bus stop in order to make it to work, or walk to the market for groceries.
3. Eat a balanced diet (more fruit, less jalebis and biscuits with your cup of chai). Cut out colas and limcas, drink water.
4. Get your glucose tested! Make it periodic by the age of 30.
5. Encourage your friends, family and neighbors to go for glucose screenings and manage their weight/diet/activity.
Staying motivated is key, and we should continue to be inspired to make changes in healthcare that moves toward a healthy solution to this rising problem.