The International Diabetes Federation estimates over 387 million people currently live with diabetes globally that is costing $612 billion in annual healthcare spending. The IDF states “year after year we are seeing increasing numbers of people developing diabetes....worldwide”.
One of the countries seeing a large increase in diabetes is Thailand where the prevalence of diabetes has more than tripled since the 1990s when only 2% of the population was diagnosed. The latest Global Health statistics published in 2013 show 7.7% of the Thai population now living with diabetes. Thailand has achieved impressive economic, social, and health improvements in the past 10 years and was the first country in South East Asia to achieve universal health insurance that covers 75% of the population. However, its high prevalence of non-communicable diseases represents 71% of all deaths including 6% for diabetes. The latest mortality statistics showed that diabetes was the #1 cause of death in females aged 50-79 and 7th in males.
The challenge of attempting to reduce the medical and economic burden caused by treating this increase in diabetes is putting a severe strain on the medical community with the cost of treating diabetes complications escalating over 200%. These expensive complications are mostly related to kidney disease and the vascular problems of ulcers and gangrene, which lead to lower extremity amputations and require the use of expensive artificial limbs.
To help reduce the burden of cost for treating these complications, Diabetes Action donated over 1.466 million of medical supplies in 2014 to the Princess of Naradhiwas University. Appreciation for receiving these supplies was noted in a special delivery ceremony where the supplies were officially presented by Chongrak Palasai, Ph.D., President of the University, and Ouichai Pleangrasiti, MD, Dean of Faculty of Medicine to the Director and staff of Naradhiwas and Phra Mongut Klao Hospitals. The expertise of the orthopedic specialists in Bangkok will enable some of the prosthetic supplies to be used by a Mobil Medical Unit of the Naradhiwas Hospital to benefit patients of the three southern-most provinces of Thailand. The current medical mission of distributing these supplies is being done in honor of Princess Sirinthorn’s 60th Birthday. In addition to helping care for patients with diabetes, some of these supplies are critically needed to aid the victims of Thailand’s Civil War in the southern provinces that have claimed over 5000 lives and left over 9000 injured in the past 10 years of escalating attacks.
In addition to helping meet the need for medical supplies in Thailand in 2014, Diabetes Action also sent $64,000 of supplies to Sierra Leone. Because of the current epidemic of Ebola, our contact in Sierra Leone asked us to send supplies that focused on hand sanitizers,bleach, biohazard waste baskets, surgical gloves, oxygen masks, blood pressure kits and IV supplies. We hope that our assistance will help lower the stress of caring for so many people in need of medical services.