National Document Unveils Growing Challenge of Diabetes

National Document Unveils Growing Challenge of Diabetes National Document Unveils Growing Challenge of Diabetes

Iran has the third highest incidence of diabetes in the region after Egypt and Pakistan, and the rates are projected to double within the next decade, Health Minister Dr. Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi said at the two-day Iran International Diabetes Leadership Forum 2015 in Tehran on Monday.

There are 4.5 million diabetics in Iran of whom 2 million are aware of their disease. Under the circumstances controlling non-communicable diseases is of prime importance, Hashemi said, reports IRNA.

The national document on diabetes was unveiled in the presence of health ministers from Russia, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Bolivia, and Guinea.

Prevention of diabetes should be considered “a national and global task and this can be achieved through closer cooperation between the private and state-run organizations as well as international organizations,” he said.

Iranian researchers have presented over 500 articles on treatment of diabetes which have been registered by international organizations, Hashemi noted.

Cardiovascular diseases including hypertension are more than twice as common in people with diabetes. They are also twice as likely to develop eye complications, as well as kidney failure, he warned.

He underscored the need for free diagnostic services and access to medicine, and hoped it would be considered in the upcoming five-year economic development plan (2016-2020), Borna News agency reported.


Deputy Health Minister Baqer Larijani took note of similar conferences held over the past year in other countries including the US, Russia, China, Turkey, and the UAE, and outlined details of the national document.

“The document constitutes data on diabetes in Iran, outlooks, approaches, standards and services in the government and private sectors, and a ten-year roadmap (2015-2025) for research on the disease and developing institutional capacities,” he said.

“Based on this document, we should be able to screen the entire population over the next decade to create a ‘Diabetes Register’ ultimately aimed at preventing early onset of diabetes,” he added.

Screening has begun in small towns and will be extended to all regions with the implementation of the document.

“All people over 40 will be checked for high blood pressure, blood lipids, and blood sugar.”

He lamented that diabetes is growing fast in the region. Countries like India, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are facing shockingly high rates, 20% of the population above 17 years in the UAE alone. The rate is estimated at 6% in Iran.

According to available data, diabetes has grown by 30% over the past 25 years in Iran, reducing life expectancy by 10-15 years.

He also announced the establishment of a National Diabetes Academy to raise public awareness on the disease and preventive action.

According to the International Diabetes Federation’s Diabetes Atlas for 2014, there are nearly 400 million people in the world living with diabetes which claims the lives of 38 million annually. Some 77% of diabetics live in low and middle income countries while 46.3% are still undiagnosed.

“We are trying to promote diagnostic and treatment programs through the national document, and help prevent premature deaths,” Larijani stressed.

 Treatment Costly

Research shows that Iran has an estimated annual loss of 300,000 disability-adjusted life years (DALY) for diabetes and its ensuing complications. DALY is a measure of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death. Pointing to the high cost of treating the disease, Larijani said, “50% of the entire treatment costs is attributed to essential medicine, 9% to treating the resultant side effects, and 20% to medical care for secondary complications such as cardiovascular diseases.”

Promoting the quality of lifestyles, providing insurance coverage for the affected, and a national registry are among other targets of the program.

Iran ranks first in the region in endocrinology and metabolism research, and can make further progress by drawing on the experience of other nations, and cooperating with international agencies, said Larijani, who is also director of the Iranian Endocrinology and Metabolism Research Institute, ILNA reported.