ISLAMABAD -  Twenty-six percent of Pakistani population is suffering from diabetes, according to National Survey 2016-17 on diabetes.

According to the survey, 35 million to 37.5 million people above 20 are suffering from this disease in the country. Findings of this survey were made public at a health conference on Friday.

This survey is first of its kind in Pakistan or any other developing country over the last five years. It has been conducted by Baqai Institute of Diabetology and Endocrinology (BIDE) in collaboration with Health Ministry, Pakistan Health Research Council and WHO-funded Diabetic Association of Pakistan.

These figures are far higher than estimates and expectations of policy makers and health experts about this disease.

BIDE’s Prof Abdul Basit told BBC that “according to previous estimates 7 to 8 percent population of Pakistan, which means 7 to 8 million people, could have been suffering from diabetes.

Experts believe that this number could reach 15 to 20 percent of the population by 2040, but surprisingly the number of diabetic patients has gone beyond 26 percent, that is dangerous for the entire nation.”

The national diabetes survey has been conducted in urban and rural areas of all four provinces and the federal capital. 17 teams of expert researchers took part in the survey. During this survey almost 11,000 people were tested for diabetes from August last year until this month in line with the WHO health guide lines and 14.7 percent of these people were found positive.

Prof Abdul Basit says “19 percent of people knew that they were suffering from this disease while 7 percent of them were diagnosed with this disease only after tests conducted during this survey.” According to Prof Abdul Basit “the last such survey in Pakistan was conducted 20 years ago and it continued for four years.”

This survey also shows that another 14 percent of Pakistanis can fall prey to diabetes in future. The latest survey will help find out whether a child’s weight at the time of birth, mother’s diet, formula milk, livelihood tension, social issues or any other reasons are behind this disease.

According to the experts on the basis of findings of this survey, there is a need to make changes to the national health policy and launch programmes at school level to prevent this disease.