In Jordan, diabetes affects more than 12% of the population

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AMMAN — Chances are, you know someone who has diabetes — be it yourself, a loved one, or an acquaintance. Diabetes affects more than 12 percent of Jordan’s population, and data from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that there is a steady trend in the prevalence of diabetes globally. Categorized as a non-communicable disease (NCD), diabetes cannot be transmitted from person to person.اضافة اعلان

Like many NCDs, there are preventive measures you can take to reduce your risk of getting it. While there is no cure for the disease, managing and controlling your diabetes can improve your quality of life.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, is a chronic condition that leads to high levels of sugar in the blood, otherwise known as hyperglycemia. In our bodies, sugar takes the form of glucose, and it is our main source of energy that affects nearly every function of our daily lives.

Our pancreas, an organ located in our abdomen, regulates the level of glucose in our blood. It produces a hormone called insulin, which decreases blood sugar by storing it in the liver. This process happens after we eat, especially following the consumption of high carb meals. In diabetics, insulin is not produced or released sufficiently.

Types of diabetes

There are general misconceptions about diabetes and who it affects. Many are under the impression that diabetes affects older or obese individuals. Although there is some truth to this, diabetes is more complex and can be caused by several factors. For simplification purposes, doctors have categorized each cause under a “type” of diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes: Type 1 is a congenital, autoimmune disease. What this means is that people are born with this predisposition. Typically, Type 1 is seen in children and even young adults but can develop at any point in life. Individuals with this type of diabetes either produce very little insulin or none at all. Internationally, Type 1 diabetes accounts for approximately 10 percent of all chronic diabetes cases. Individuals with this type of diabetes require insulin injections.

Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes, and it results from insulin resistance, or the body not responding to insulin effectively. The pancreas produces higher levels of insulin to elicit an appropriate response. Over time, this causes damage to pancreas, which then leads to a steady decrease in the release of insulin.

Although Type 2 is considered preventable, it accounts for approximately 90 percent of cases internationally. Treatment for Type 2 involves a selection of a variety of oral medications that increase sensitivity to insulin. In extreme cases, insulin injections may be needed.

Gestational Diabetes: Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is diabetes that develops during pregnancy and typically resolves after birth. Women with GDM have a higher risk of developing Type 2, especially 3-6 years after birth. The cause of GDM is still unknown, but the standing theory is that the hormones produced by the placenta result in insulin resistance. It is estimated that GDM occurs in about 13 percent of pregnancies. Depending on the country, guidelines for treatment involve insulin injections, oral medications, or both.

These three types are the most common, but as is the case with most diseases, our understanding of diabetes is continuously evolving. Although an international census has yet to be reached, there have been proposals for a Type 3 diabetes.

Type 3 can unofficially be used to refer to a subset of eight additional causes of diabetes outlined by the WHO that include infections and medications, among others. Alternatively, doctors from Brown University have also suggested that Alzheimer’s disease be dubbed Type 3, with brain insulin resistance being a distinct symptom of the disease.

Diabetes in Jordan:

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death in Jordan. To combat this, the Ministry of Health (MoH) constructed a national strategy in 2011. A key emphasis was placed on promoting healthy diets and physical activity. A framework to develop or amend laws and regulations regarding diets for the general population included promoting and encouraging the production of healthy foods, whereas unhealthy foods would be discouraged and potentially sanctioned. The MoH also suggested national labeling standards to be applied on locally produced foods as well as imported foods.

Recommendations were made to review and amend marketing and advertisement of unhealthy foods, especially those targeting children and adolescents. Regarding physical activity, the MoH suggested the development of recreational areas such as parks, as well as establishing more sidewalks and bike lanes. Fewer suggestions were made to promote physical activity within schools, the workplace, and households. In the medical sector, proposals were made to increase screening for diabetes and access to care. As a part of their strategy to spread awareness and promote a healthy lifestyle, the MoH urged high ranking political figures to lead by example by performing physical activity in public or eating healthy foods during ceremonies.

For the management of current diabetics, the MoH placed great emphasis on the availability of medication to treat patients, as well as increasing the capacity on primary care facilities and providing them with the basic equipment to monitor essential health parameters. In theory, the policies proposed are well-rounded and feasible. Regardless of the governments capacity to provide change, it is ultimately up to the general public to control their lifestyle.

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