Diabetes: problems accessing insulin set to get worse

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Between now and 2030 about 79 million people with type 2 diabetes will need insulin.  A recent study has revealed that about half will struggle to get hold of it. 

There are more than 500 million people the world who are affected by diabetes (about 3.7 million people in the UK). For these people their pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, preventing it from regulating the body’s blood sugar levels.  For the majority, insulin injections are necessary so that they can reestablish their blood sugar levels.  The problem is not everyone can access it.

Issues accessing insulin only to get worse

About 33 million people who currently need insulin haven’t got access to treatment which is often too expensive.  However this already complicated situation could get worse.

Based on available data, researchers estimated that between 2018 and 2030, the number of people with diabetes in the world would increase from 406 million to 511 million. Of this half a billion people, more than half will live in China (130 million), India (98 million) and the United States (32 million).

According to the study published in the journal Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology the problem is that 79 million people who will need insulin but half won’t have any access.  In fact the number of people who lack insulin for managing their type two diabetes could climb to almost 40 million by 2030. 

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“ More efforts should be devoted to overcoming this looming health challenge ”

“These estimates suggest that current levels of insulin access are highly inadequate compared to projected need, particularly in Africa and Asia, and more efforts should be devoted to overcoming this looming health challenge ”, stated Doctor Sanjay Basu, from Stanford University in the United States and leaning author of the study.

“The number of adults with type 2 diabetes is expected to rise over the next 12 years due to ageing, urbanisation, and associated changes in diet and physical activity. Unless governments begin initiatives to make insulin available and affordable, then its use is always going to be far from optimal.”

Researchers stress the need to make insulin – which is expensive and often out of reach of the poorest countries – more affordable in the coming years, in the hope that everyone can have equal access to the treatment.

Could we get rid of insulin injections altogether?

A recent clinical trial proposed a few months ago a treatment which simply destroyed the mucous membrane of the small intestine. The idea of the trial is to let the body create a completely new one.

In just one hour, the researchers explain that they  stabilized the blood sugar levels of about 50 people with type 2 diabetes for almost a year. This revealed a link between the absorption of nutrients from the intestinal membrane and the development of insulin resistance. A future phase two clinical trial is apparently already scheduled.


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