KARACHI – Section Head of Endocrinology at Aga Khan University, Dr Jaweed Akhter said that timely screening of diabetes is absolutely essential for proper and effective prevention. He was commenting on the escalating rates of diabetes around the world at an event marking World Diabetes Day held at Aga Khan University on Sunday. The World Diabetes Day is being commemorated this week throughout the country with a global theme of ‘Diabetes Prevention and Education’, aimed at educating, engaging and empowering youth to spread awareness. The need of screening is important as most of the people are unaware that they have suffering from the disease and only get concerned when they develop a complication. This is often too late to reverse. Adopting a healthy diet, regular exercise and maintaining normal body weight could prevent type-2 diabetes, which is the most common form of the disease. All efforts need to be made to educate people in identifying the disease early enough to fight it more effectively.The World Health Organisation estimates that more than 80 percent of diabetes-related deaths occur in low and middle income countries. Karachi is no exception to the prevalence of diabetes. With limited facilities available for the public to exercise and poor dietary patterns of the population, only an explosion of the problem can be foreseen. Out of a total of 1,200 adults in Kharadar, Garden, Dehli Mercantile Society and Abid Town in Karachi screened by an oral glucose tolerance test conducted by investigators at the Department of Medicine, Aga Khan University in collaboration with the University of Helsinki, Finland, 13.4 percent were suffering from diabetes. An additional 32 percent showed signs of pre-diabetes. Principle investigators, Drs Asma Ahmed and Javaid Akhtar suggested that, “We need to engage the public and the policy makers of the country to take a serious view of the situation as the disease affects all classes of the society.”The results were revealed as part of an ongoing three-year study which will screen over 4,000 adults and then determine if lifestyle intervention through diet and exercise could prevent diabetes in those who have pre-diabetes. The results from the study will form the basis of recommendations that the International Diabetes Federation intends to make on the issue of preventing diabetes in large urban areas in the developing world.Health stalls offering free blood glucose testing were also set-up during the event as part of spreading awareness.There are currently seven million patients of diabetes in the country and the number could rise to 15 million by the year 2025. The facts were revealed at a seminar organised here in which Sindh Assembly Speaker Nisar Khuhro was the chief guest. Professor Masood Hameed Khan, Vice Chancellor DOW University, Dr Zaman Sheikh, Director National Institute of Diabetes and Endocrinology, provincial minister Sharjeel Memon and former cricketer Wasim Akram were the guests. Experts said that more than 280 million people have diabetes, representing six percent of the world’s adult population, with numbers increasing fast everywhere. They said that diabetes is causing premature deaths in both children and adults, and devastating complications including amputations, kidney and heart disease. They said that being the most widespread metabolic disorder has remained the focus of innumerable researches, investigations and studies across the world. They said that proper control of diabetes could prevent or delay the long-term complications.