The Middle East and Africa (MEA) region showed the highest prevalence of diabetes among expatriate population globally at 2.58 per cent in 2016, according to a new report.
Meanwhile, the total number of members with diabetes increased by 40 per cent across Europe, Southeast Asia, the Americas and the MEA) regions between 2014 and 2016, added the whitepaper titled ‘Diabetes: the world’s weightiest problem’ from Aetna International, a leading health benefits and services partner.
The prevalence of diabetes in the MEA region was followed by the prevalence in the Americas (2.13 per cent), and Europe (1.59 per cent in 2016), and almost treble the prevalence in Southeast Asia (0.79 per cent).
Most of this increase has been in type-2 diabetes, which can be attributed to a poor lifestyle and can be prevented through early detection and effective behaviour change.
“This worrying level of diabetes in expats living in the Middle East and Africa is in part a symptom of an imported Western lifestyle and modern sedentary work,” said Dr Mitesh Patel, medical director at Aetna International.
“Once expats relocate they can be exposed to increased access to unhealthy fast food and less active ways of working, which may not have been the case in their home country.
“The diabetes burden is getting worse, not better in MEA region – putting growing pressure on healthcare providers and in turn the healthcare insurance industry. Ultimately this means increasing health insurance premiums, which no one wants.”
The huge economic cost of diabetes for health providers, governments and insurers can be mitigated by early detection and disease management, preventing the onset or escalation of the disease. Though these measures mean an initial investment, this is far outweighed by the cost of acute, often emergency, inpatient hospital treatment.
“Prevention is key to combating diabetes, and it requires a shift in the perceived function of health insurers – from only providing support for acute and chronic treatment to encouraging individuals to take more preventative action and adopt healthier lifestyles. Aetna International offers a tailored care management programme for members with diabetes who are identified as at risk. This support includes working with the members on a one-to-one work basis to engage them in healthy eating, exercising, monitoring blood glucose levels, as well as the proper use of, and adherence to, medication,” Dr Patel added.
“We are committed to revolutionising the global health care system by fundamentally changing the way health care is managed and delivered. For example, through the development of innovative tools, such as our new virtual care service– a comprehensive ecosystem that allows access to end-to-end medical services – individuals can have access to a uniquely integrated healthcare journey and will be able to manage their health and well-being while enabling payers to lower their costs. Our vHealth service is already live in India, which is set to be the diabetes capital of the world by 2025, and will be rolled out to other regions over the coming months.
“We believe that by transforming the global health care system we can turn the tide – not just on diabetes, but also on a spectrum of other diseases and conditions, and we call on others to join us,” he concluded. – TradeArabia News Service