GIS - 13 January, 2016: For the first time in 30 years, the prevalence of diabetes in Mauritius has stabilised with figures standing at 22.8% in 2015, compared to 23.6% in 2009, while the prevalence of pre-diabetes, for the same period, has declined from 24.4% to 19.4%. However, the prevalence of obesity has increased from 16% in 2009 to 19.1% in 2015, with approximately 398,417 Mauritians being overweight or obese.
The main highlights of the Mauritius Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) Survey 2015 were presented by the Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Mr Anil Gayan, yesterday in Ebène, in the presence of Professor Paul Zimmet, Director Emeritus and Director of International Research at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute of Australia.
Highlighting the elements in the Survey that remain public health concerns, the Minister listed the increase in the consumption of alcohol from 48.5% in 2009 to 52.8% in 2015, with a higher consumption for men at 66.2% and at 41% for women; and the high depression rates, especially in Mauritian women, which were at almost 20%. “The health problems are serious and we must address them robustly,” affirmed Mr Gayan.
It is noted that though the prevalence of diabetes has stabilised, the magnitude of diabetes epidemic remains high as diabetes is coupled with significant premature ill health and death due to the enormous burden associated with diabetic complications including heart disease, limb amputation (about 500 cases yearly), blindness, as well as kidney disease and failure necessitating dialysis. According to the Minister, evidence-based data from the Team Based Hospital Efficiency Costing Project and the International Diabetes Federation show that the cost of treatment in Mauritius for one person suffering from diabetes was around Rs 16,800 per year, and that the State spends some Rs 2.2 billion annually on the treatment of diabetes and its complications.
In light of these findings, Mr Gayan stressed the urgency for a strategy to prevent the onset of diabetes as well as of its immediate and longer term consequences. Beside a systematic programme for diagnosis for all people who are at risk, the Minister called for other measures namely legislation to control sugary and fizzy drinks as the intake of sugar heightens the risks of diabetes and obesity. Mr Gayan also announced more awareness activities on the risks factors namely excessive intake of sugar and salt, tobacco and alcohol consumption, sedentary lifestyle as well as encouraging people to lead healthy lifestyle, and go for tests. “Bad habits do not disappear overnight. Patience and sustained efforts associated with legislative measures will bring positive results,” he averred.
The Survey also points out some positive trends as compared to the 2009 Survey such as the decrease in the prevalence of hypertension from 38% in 2009 to 28% in 2015; the reduction in the prevalence of smoking from 21.7% to 19.3%; and an improvement in the population undertaking sufficient physical activity from 16.5% to 23.7%. Moreover, the new Survey has taken in consideration asthma, and cognitive decline in a bid to identify the link between ageing population and dementia. While the measurement of asthma-like symptoms shows a prevalence of around 10%, data is still being analysed regarding cognitive impairment.
The Mauritius NCD Survey 2015 was conducted by the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life in collaboration with the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute of Australia, the Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism of St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College of the United Kingdom, the Umea University Hospital of Sweden and the University of Helsinki of Finland. A sample of 4,400 participants, representative of the population and aged 18 years and above from across Mauritius, was targeted for the Survey, with a response rate of 87%. Previous surveys were conducted in 1987, 1992, 1998, 2004 and 2009.
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