Recent statistics released by Jordan’s National Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Genetics (NCDEG) have revealed that thirty-six per cent of Jordanians over twenty-five have diabetes – up from thirty per cent in just two years.
NCDEG figures also reveal that seventy per cent of deaths in Jordan are related to diabetes. The disease accounts for seventy-five per cent of hospital admissions.
The Jordanian study was released in preparation for the UN High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) which took place on 19th and 20th September.
The meeting – the first of its kind dedicated specifically to tackling NCDs – brought together representatives from around the world, and identified diabetes as one of the NCDs posing a significant risk to global health. Other NCDs on the agenda included hypertension and heart disease (conditions which are also closely linked with diabetes), and cancer.
The UN has pledged to take action on NCDs and will compile a global plan by 2013, outlining how it will curb risk factors associated with these diseases.
Jordan formalised its National Strategy and Action Plan for Diabetes Prevention and Control in October 2010.
The prevention strategy hinges largely on promoting healthy diet and physical activity. The Jordanian government will use policies on food pricing and production to favour healthy foods.
It will also introduce initiatives such as daily physical exercise sessions in the workplace and grade point rewards for students who participate in physical education and competition in school. Healthy living and exercise will become a primary concern in urban planning, for example through the creation of parks and cycle lanes in urban areas.
In terms of control, the strategy will focus on improving management of the disease.
Healthcare professionals of all levels will be trained in diabetes management, patients will be taught to self-monitor their condition using personal glucometers, and fasting blood sugar tests will be made available at all primary healthcare centres. There will be an emphasis on equal access to medical care for all diabetics irrespective of income or gender.
Jordan’s national diabetes action plan also outlines the importance of introducing screening programmes. These will take two key forms: screening high-risk groups for earlier diagnosis of pre-diabetes, and screening existing diabetics for early signs of complications such as retinopathy, heart disease and neuropathy.
Like many of its neighbouring countries, Jordan recognises the importance of combating diabetes in the Middle East which has some of the highest rates of diabetes in the world.