Despite of advancements in medical treatments and technology, diabetes remains a prevalent chronic disease that afflicts a huge number of Filipinos. It is the eighth leading cause of death in the country, according to the Philippine Center for Diabetes Education Foundation.
There were over 3.7 million cases of diabetes in the last year alone, estimates from the International Diabetes Federation show. At the current rate, Filipinos are developing the disease, which is 6.2 prevalence rate among adults, the IDF forecasts there would be at least 183 million diabetic Filipinos by 2045.
This grim forecast means that in less than 50 years if the trend continues, the Philippines would be among the top 10 countries with the most reported cases of diabetes.
Diabetes is a metabolism disorder characterized by insufficient production or utilization of insulin by the body, resulting in increased sugar levels in the blood and urine. This condition may lead to long-term damage and failure of organs, especially the eyes, kidneys, nerves, blood vessels, and limbs.
To help curb the rising numbers of Filipino diabetics, Johnson & Johnson Philippines has teamed up with the Philippine College of Diabetology and the Philippine Society of Endocrinology Diabetes and Metabolism to manage and educate diabetic patients and their families.
“The disease itself may be old science but, apart from keeping healthy lifestyles, there are always new developments when it comes to treating diabetes,” says Dr. Erwin Benedicto, senior manager of scientific affairs and medical compliance of J&J (Philippines), Inc.
Despite its prevalence, there are several methods to prevent the onset of diabetes, as the disease can be addressed early on by adopting healthy lifestyle habits.
“Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors. It is a disease not merely related to family history, but also it is a condition that may be caused by lifestyle. So people should take heart—we can always make the conscious effort to develop a healthier lifestyle or seek proper attention to either avoid or address the disease,” avers Benedicto.
While some individuals may be genetically predisposed to developing diabetes, a combination of multiple factors, such as high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle, can vastly increase the risk of acquiring the disease.
“Leading an active lifestyle, maintaining healthy body weight, and keeping to a balanced diet can greatly prevent the onset of diabetes,” says Benedicto.
Simple healthy eating habits, such as replacing sugary drinks with water, choosing foods with lower glycemic index, and eating more home-cooked meals, will contribute to reducing the risk of developing diabetes, he adds.
Professional diabetic treatment may be easily found in most clinics and hospitals, from specialists (endocrinologists, diabetologists, cardiologists, and nephrologists) to primary care physicians (family physicians, general practitioners, and internists).
Johnson & Johnson Philippines has likewise supported the endeavors of these professionals with its medical devices, medications, and testing and screening activities.
The company’s diabetes medication, Canagliflozin, treats more than eight million patients in the United States and over six thousand patients in the Philippines. Belonging to the class of drugs called SGLT2 inhibitors, Canagliflozin reduces blood sugar through urination and improves systolic blood pressure as well as the weight of the patient.
“We hope to reach more people across the country with the help of hospitals, professional organizations, and government,” says Benedicto. “Diabetes may be afflicting a lot of Filipinos today, but we are confident that if we worked together if we adopted healthier lifestyles, we could reduce the number of Filipinos with diabetes and eventually win the war against the disease.”
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