Friday, March 16, 2012

Diabetes: Prevention Over Cure

The problem of diabetes is becoming more widespread in the UK. To give you an idea of the sheer size of the problem, around 3.7million people in the UK are affected by diabetes, and this figure is rising steadily. Not only does diabetes take the lives of thousand of people each year, thousands more are affected by the complications associated with the condition, such as kidney failure, strokes, blindness and amputation.

The Human and Finaincial Cost of Diabetes

Diabetes has a huge human cost, but the financial costs are also staggeringly high. Diabetes treatment and care for those suffering from the condition accounts for around 10% of the entire expenditure of the NHS. One of the key concerns within the NHS is that so much money is being pumped into treatment but very little is being done to prevent the disease in the first place. This raises the question of how much of this human and economic cost is actually unnecessary?
In an article by Barbara Young, which was recently published in The Guardian, Mrs. Young identified the frustrating fact that we already know how type 2 diabetes will often be prevented – through living a healthy lifestyle. It would also be far more cost-effective for the NHS to prevent diabetes and to diagnose the condition early, before the symptoms take form and cause severe damage to the patient. Not to mention what this would have n the human cost of the disease.
Young reiterates the point that we should be identifying the 7million people in the UK who are considered to be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and teach them how to live a healthy life. Everything should be done to encourage people to choose healthy lifestyles, in order to reduce the risk of developing diabetes or other serious health issues.

850,000 Undiagnosed Diabetes Sufferers In the UK

It is estimated that around 850,000 people in the UK have diabetes but have not been diagnosed. If the condition is not detected early on, the effects can become more serious, and even life threatening. If it is possible to avoid patients reaching this stage of the illness in the first place, surely we should strive for this to happen. If NHS resources could be better spent preventing the illness rather than treating it, then it seems like a no-brainer that this is the better option.
In addition to prevention, more research needs to be carried out to develop more effective treatments for the many unavoidable cases. But whatever is done, must be done quickly, to avoid the UK’s diabetes crisis turning into a disaster that the NHS will simply not be able to cope with.