New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday urged the Southeast Asian countries to promote educational campaigns regarding self-management of diabetes and make its treatment cost effective.
"Diabetes is of particular concern in the South East Asian Region. More than one out of every four of the 3.7 million diabetes-related deaths globally occur in this region," said Poonam Khetrapal, director for WHO South East Asian region.
"If diabetes prevalence continues to rise, the personal, social and economic consequences will deepen," Khetrapal said.
The South East Asian Region is generally considered to be made up of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Singapore, and East Timor.
World Health Day this year focuses on diabetes and calls for scaling up efforts to prevent, care for and detect the disease to arrest the global epidemic which is hitting the low and middle income countries the most.
According to WHO records, over 96 million people in the world do not know that they are suffering from diabetes.
"Diabetes rarely makes headlines, and yet it will be the world's seventh largest killer by 2030 unless intense and focused efforts are made by governments, communities and individuals," said Khetrapal.
Nearly 90 percent of all diabetes cases are of Type 2 diabetes, largely the result of excess bodyweight and physical inactivity, she said.
"Diabetes is both preventable and treatable if detected early. If not properly managed the disease causes serious damage to every major organ in the body, resulting in heart attacks, strokes, blindness and nerve damage," said Khetrapal.
World Health Day is celebrated on April 7 every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of WHO in 1948.