According to the recent estimates by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), South East-Asia (SEA) Region consisting of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Mauritius and Maldives, is home to more than 72 million adults with diabetes in 2013 and is expected to exceed 123 million in 2035. Nearly 95% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Although type 1 diabetes (T1DM) is relatively rare in these countries, its prevalence is also rising. Furthermore, a large number (24.3 million) of people also have impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). Several characteristic differences are seen in the clinical and immunological presentation of these people when compared with their European counterparts. A sharp increase in the prevalence of T2DM has been observed in the SEA Region, both in urban and rural areas, which is mostly associated with the lifestyle transitions towards urbanisation and industrialisation. Evidence suggests that a large portion of T2DM may be preventable by lifestyle modification. However, morbidity and early mortality occur as a result of inadequate healthcare facilities for early detection and initiation of therapy, as well as suboptimal management of diabetes and associated morbidities. This is largely preventable by primary prevention of diabetes and enhancing awareness about the disease among the public and the healthcare providers. There is an urgent need for concerted efforts by government and non-governmental sectors to implement national programmes aimed at prevention, management and surveillance of the disease.
Keywords: Diabetes; Prevalence; Risk factors; Secular trends; South-East Asia Region.
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