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The global prevalence of diabetes has been rising steadily for the past 30 years. Countries across the map have experienced increases. Differences lie in how much the disease has grown. Some regions like the Eastern Mediterranean Region have witnessed explosions of diabetes. Prevalence has jumped from 5.9% in 1980 to 13.7% in 2014. Other regions have seen more tepid gains. For example, diabetes in the African Region has increased moderately from 3.1% in 1980 to 7.1% in 2014. The global average comes in at 8.5%. According to the World Health Organization, it is the 7th leading cause of death.
Diabetes is a non-communicable disease. In the past, NCDs have been considered diseases of affluence. That no longer appears to hold true as the countries experiencing the greatest increases tend to fall in the middle-income range. Still, it stands to reason that countries climbing up the economic ladder would suffer from increases in NCDs.
No country represents a rise to global affluence more than China. (For more information on the ways China has developed, just choose from the multitude of news articles celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s assumption of power.) In particular, the past 20 years has seen an acceleration in the Middle Kingdom’s development.
So how does diabetes in China compare with the rest of the world? Pretty favorably it seems.
According to WHO statistics, diabetes accounts for 2% of all deaths. It’s a far cry from cardiovascular disease (45%) or even cancers (23%).
Women are more affected by the disease than men. Among 30-69 year olds, 37,000 men died from diabetes vs 56,000 women. The trend continues among people 70+ years of age with 49,300 diabetes deaths among men vs 82,400 among women.
However, the picture changes when viewed in terms of prevalence. Males are outpacing females in terms of age-standardized prevalence rates.
Nonetheless, China appears to be placed somewhere within the global mean in terms of diabetes prevalence and mortality, though in some cases at the higher end.
Fortunately, unlike poorer countries, China is well equipped to deal with the disease. Medications such as insulin, Metformin, and Sulphonylurea are readily available as are diagnostic tools in primary care facilities.
DATA SOURCE: World Health Organization
IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons