Diabetes in the Philippines has been hitting pandemic-like numbers. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), 1 in 14 Filipino adults live with diabetes. As of May 2020, the total cases of diabetes in adults in the country are at 3.9 million.
In a bid to address these alarming numbers, global pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk Philippines held a virtual press conference in line with World Diabetes Day, in partnership with the Quezon City Cubao Lions Club, Inc., the Royal Danish Embassy Manila, Philippine Diabetes Support, the Philippine Association of Diabetes Educators, Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Institute for Studies on Diabetes Foundation, Inc., Diabetes Philippines, Inc., Philippine Center for Diabetes Education Foundation, Inc., and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.
“The numbers are like a huge worldwide epidemic, and we have to solve this problem,” emphasized Cihan Serdar Kizilcik, Vice President and General Manager for Novo Nordisk Philippines, opening the virtual event with a strong statement. “10 years ago, globally, people with diabetes were at 285 million. Just last year, this number rose to 463 million… that’s a 50% increase!”
“And if we don’t do anything, in another 20 years, we will see that this number could exceed 700 million, and that is a huge problem. We cannot afford to ignore this anymore, no matter what.”
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Ambassador Grete Sillasen of the Royal Danish Embassy Manila still encouraged that, together, we can still strive for good health globally and in the Philippines. “COVID-19 hangs like a dark cloud, but if there is a silver lining behind that cloud, it is that everybody has become aware of how important it is that we have the right healthcare systems to fight whatever disease that we will be up against,” she said.
To further help Filipinos in defeating diabetes amid other healthcare concerns, Novo Nordisk has created a Filipino Diabetes Risk Assessment, a free, online assessment of one’s risk for Type 2 Diabetes (T2D). Dr. Cecilia A. Jimeno, Chair of the Research Committee in Philippine Society for Endocrinology and Metabolism and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in UP Manila College of Medicine, explained that the 12-question survey could be accomplished in less than 2 minutes, with queries based on the presence of T2D risk factors classified as non-modifiable and modifiable. The survey was also created with the Filipino patient in mind, taking into consideration factors that affect the Filipino lifestyle.
The risk assessment aims to encourage early detection of one’s risk factors and to be able to control and evaluate those individually, to prevent the onset of the disease by addressing the modifiable risks, and to urge people to go for early medical consultations for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. With the Philippines considered a hot spot for diabetes, learning more about their own risk for the disease is a must for Filipinos.
True to its campaign to #DefeatDiabetesTogether, Novo Nordisk’s partner organizations also shared their efforts conducted in the past few years to help raise awareness for diabetes, particularly type 2. Dr. Grace Ko-Delos Santos of Diabetes Philippines emphasized that no single organization can defeat diabetes alone and said that the first step is to educate the public about diabetes, starting with the youth through school lectures and online learning.
“The children of today could be the diabetics of tomorrow,” she emphasized.
The Quezon City Cubao Lions Club, Inc. also committed to screening 1 million people worldwide in 200 countries where they are present as a contribution to raising awareness for the disease.
“#DefeatDiabetesTogether” called for the decision-makers in the government down to the LGU’s, the media, private sectors, and the society as a whole to “do our part not just to flatten the [diabetes] curve, but bend it, in order for our fellow Filipinos fighting diabetes to have a better future ahead of them.”