South-East Asia with its rapid economic growth has also developed rapidly into a region with a rising burden of diabetes, Jean Claude Mbanya, president, International Diabetes Federation, said.

Making an unequivocal connection between increasing prosperity and economic development, and increased risk of diabetes, Dr.Mbanya said the changes associated with economic development are decreased physical activity and an unhealthy diet.

These are primary risk factors for diabetes, which has grown to the size of a global pandemic that is responsible for four million deaths every year, he added.

“You [in South-East Asia] have embraced economic development but you are not managing it well,” he added. Going on to answer a rhetorical question on how to deal with it, Dr.Mbanya said “If the market forces are against us and we cannot take care of all our patients well, we need to turn our focus on prevention.” The most important component of prevention would be to educate the community about the risk factors and inculcate behaviour modifications that will reduce the risk of getting diabetes.

One of the key target groups would have to be children, who are the future, but also a group that is increasingly tending towards unhealthy diets, sedentary lifestyles and obesity. As a result, he predicted that unless controlled, the next epidemic would be among children. Awareness should also be provided to those at risk of diabetes, he added.

Gold medal oration

He was delivering the 16th Dr.Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre (DMDSC) Gold Medal Oration on ‘Are we witnessing a global Diabetes Pandemic?’ on Tuesday evening.

Unless education is spread among the people and ammunition given to them to fight the disease, it will not be possible to win the battle. “We have to win the battle,” Dr.Mbanya stressed. It is with this end that the IDF had identified Centres of Education across the world. Six such centres had been identified after a rigorous process of selection.

Declaring Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre as the IDF Centre of Excellence, he said it was one of the rare centres in the developing world.

V. Mohan, chairman, DMDSC, presented the gold medal and citation to Dr.Mbanya.

Ashok Kumar Das, Medical Superintendent, JIPMER Puducherry, said the National Programme for Control of Diabetes, Cardio Vascular Disease and Stroke launched in 10 pilot districts in the country was doing very well, a recent review had showed.

He said, this was the most opportune moment to defeat diabetes and the best way to do so was through education.

Shashank R.Joshi, vice-president, Research Society for the Study Diabetes in India, also stressed on the need for education.

He said Dr.Mohan had turned the global spotlight on diabetes in India and had united diabetologists.

Ranjit Unnikrishnan, director and consultant diabetologist, DMDSC, traced the evolution of the centre from its humble beginning in a rented building in Royapettah to being recognised as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Non Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control and a research institute of international repute.

A website was also launched on the occasion. R.M.Anjana, director and consultant diabetologist, said the site contained information about all the research and training aspects of the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation.

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