Editor in Chief: Dr. Hussain Yasa Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

On World Diabetes Day

Every year November 14 is celebrated as the World Diabetes Day (WDD) in various countries around the world. The Day was basically created by International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1991 as a response to the growing concerns regarding health threats posed by diabetes. However, it became an official United Nations Day in 2006 after a resolution was passed. The basic aims of the day include: preparing a platform to promote IDF advocacy efforts throughout the year and be the global driver to promote the importance of taking coordinated and concerted actions to confront diabetes as a critical global health issue.
This year the theme of WDD is ‘Eyes on Diabetes’, which aims to focus on promoting the importance of screening to ensure early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and treatment to reduce the risk of serious complications.
Diabetes is a serious disease and is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation. The number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014, and WHO projects that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death in 2030. However, the good news is that it can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with diet, physical activity, medication and regular screening and treatment for complications.  Unfortunately, due to socio-economic issues there are many people who cannot have proper access to health facilities, therefore, they fail to pursue proper treatment.
The irony is to see human development in the field of health and medicine and yet find that there are millions of people in the world who are not able to benefit from these developments. This simply means that the revolution in the field of health and medicine does not cure the diseases of those people who are most vulnerable to them i.e. the poor. For poor, the health facilities are a luxury that they can only dream about.
If Afghanistan is considered in this regard, it would be clear that there is not enough awareness regarding diabetes; moreover, even those who know about the disease they cannot do much to fight against it as the accessibility to medicines for the common people is really very poor. Same is the situation regarding many other diseases.  
The people of Afghanistan, for the last few decades, have not been able to get their rudimentary requirements of life easily. Since the installation of a democratic government, the situation has improved to a certain extent, yet real changes are to be seen. Most of the matters relevant to the life of poor civilians of Afghanistan have been handled on short-term basis. The donors’ money based on the specific projects have only supported the people for a particular period of time; while in most cases these projects only exist on the papers.
No considerable measures have to be taken though it is clear that poor health facilities is causing many deaths each year. Even in the largest cities of the country, the health facilities are not appropriate and most of the diseases that people have remain untreated.
In the last few years the attentions that have been diverted towards the health facilities have only concentrated on the number of hospitals and medical units (even then the number is not enough), while neglecting the quality altogether. In case of public health, it is a very dangerous choice to make as lack of quality services in this case may lead to the worsening of the health and even death.
Moreover, the prices of medicines are very high as they are imported from other countries, and in most of the cases, their quality is also very much pathetic. There have been many occasions when the people have lost their lives because of low-quality medicine imported from neighboring countries.
On the other hand the quality of services provided by government hospitals is really very low, their number is not sufficient and they are not established in most of the remote areas; therefore, most of the people do not have access to them. Meanwhile, private hospitals have been established that can, in no way, be afforded by the people who do not have enough food to eat.
Even the people who can afford the luxury of availing proper health facilities choose to visit neighboring countries for standard medical facilities.
Such a scenario is really dreadful and there should be serious efforts to deal with the situation. Short term projects will never solve the health issues in Afghanistan. Afghan government and the supporting nations must pursue long-term strategies to handle the issue, if they want to help the people of Afghanistan. These strategies should have clear guidelines about the serious diseases like diabetes and the ways to minimize their threats. At the same time, the authorities should take steps to improve the accessibility of the common people to proper medical facilities and medicines.