Global diabetes has increased by 40% over the last two years, according to a new report released Monday.
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Aetna International released “Diabetes: The world’s weightiest health challenge,” that found that diabetes, which is a group of diseases that result in too much sugar in the blood stream, has nearly doubled around the world since 2014-2016 with a 69% increase in North and South America last year alone.
However, the Middle East and Africa were among the hardest hit according to the report, having the highest rate of diabetes over the last two years—that were twice the size of Europe and the Americas—and triple of Southeast Asia.
Stella George, M.D. and senior medical director at Aetna International, who co-authored the report says the disease has the power destroy “economies” if we don’t try stop it now.
“Across the globe, diabetes has the potential to overwhelm healthcare systems and wreck economies. Between 2014 and 2016 our member claims data shows that the total number of members with diabetes increased by an average of 40%, and claims costs related to diabetes treatment increased by an average of 47% – trends that are clearly unsustainable,” George said.
According to the World Health Organization’s 2016 Global Report on Diabetes, the direct annual cost of the disease is around $827 billion. Additionally, the WHO says that diabetes is no longer a problem in wealthy countries, but is rapidly increasing in low—and moderate—income countries, accounting for nearly two-thirds of diabetes cases worldwide. In 2014, there were 422 million adults living with diabetes, which is a fourfold increase since 1980.
“The disease is largely preventable and controllable. We need to transform the healthcare ecosystem for individuals around the world, bringing together healthcare providers, employers and benefits and services partners through virtual care for the benefit of individuals,” George added.