Fifty per cent of the people in India with diabetes are undiagnosed and the disease is emerging as an epidemic, said K. Rajagopal Rao, Community Medicine HOD, at Dr. Pinnamaneni Siddhartha Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Foundation.

Dr. Rao said that 4.6 million were dying of complications caused by diabetes every year. There was a death due to the disease every 7 seconds and the primary cause of the death was poor awareness.

He said that the World Health Organisation theme this year was ‘Diabetes Education and Prevention’. The number of deaths could be drastically reduced by increasing the awareness, he opined. Diabetes would become the seventh leading cause of death in the world by the year 2030. The total deaths from diabetes had been projected to rise by more than 50 per cent in the next ten years.

Besides Type I and II diabetes there was a third type that is being called the gestational diabetes. This type was characterised by hyperglycemia (raised blood sugar) which was first recognised during pregnancy. Diabetes was also a leading cause of blindness, amputation and kidney failure. Lack of awareness about the disease in combination with insufficient access to health services and essential medicines led to complications, Dr. Rao said.