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Diabetes care lacking in developing countries

It's well-established that diabetes - due, in part, to our obesity problem - is on the rise in the United States. But what you may not know is that the prevalence of the disease is increasing in many developing countries, as well. And, as Stanford researchers found by examining data from 35 low- and middle-income countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe, many diabetics lack access to the necessary care and treatment - regardless of whether they have health insurance.

Stanford writer Adam Gorlick reports:

Even with insurance, many diabetics don’t have essential medications that could help them manage their conditions. In many cases, people are spending a great deal of their household incomes to pay for their treatment, said Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert, [PhD,] an assistant professor of medicine who led the research team.

“Public and private health insurance programs aren’t providing sufficient protection for diabetics in many developing countries,” said Goldhaber-Fiebert, a faculty member at Stanford Health Policy at the university’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. “People with insurance aren’t doing markedly better than those who don’t have it...”

As Gorlick points out, the problem with not managing diabetes is that it can lead to other, greater health problems like blindness, heart disease and kidney failure. And there are, of course, societal costs attached to these things. Calling for better diabetes-related policies in these countries, Goldhaber-Fiebert said, “It’s important to get ahead of the curve and prepare so there’s an infrastructure in place to deal with these health and cost issues."

The study recently appeared in the journal Diabetes Care.

Photo by Jill A. Brown

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