Tumpa Haque, 30, from the capital's Mirpur area, was diagnosed with diabetes while she was undergoing treatment for infertility two years ago. She has type 2 diabetes and takes insulin. She will have to take insulin as long as she lives, and will have to lead a disciplined life. She spends Tk5,500 on insulin per month.
Like Tumpa Haque, Mamun-ur-Rashid, 55, from Rangpur has also been suffering from diabetes for five years. Doctors say that he is obese because of a lack of exercise, and this has caused the diabetes. He will have to exercise regularly and eat prescribed food only.
It is not just Tumpa and Mamun, around 1.1 crore of people in the country are also suffering from diabetes, according to the preliminary report by the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey 2017-18. There are more diabetic patients in the cities than in rural areas.
The report says that around 10 percent of the adults in the country suffer from diabetes. At present, 26 lakh 18 to 34 year old people, and 84 lakh 35-year old or older people are suffering from diabetes.
The blood glucose level of 6,997 males and 5,299 females was tested to determine the diabetes situation. The survey was carried out between September 2017 and March 2018, and the report was published in January this year.
Dr Shahjada Selim, assistant professor, department of endocrinology and metabolism, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), works on diabetes. He thinks an unhealthy lifestyle is the main cause of diabetes. Physical inactivity, excess amount of carbohydrate intake, less opportunities of walking due to unplanned urbanisation have caused the increase of diabetic patients.
"Physical inactivity is increasing both in villages and cities. As people become more technology-dependent, physical labour has decreased. In other countries, young people have type 1 diabetes and older people have type 2 diabetes. However, in our country, young people have been identified with type 2 diabetes, which is alarming. 20-30 year old people are being diagnosed with diabetes whereas it is supposed to be found among 50-60 year olds," Dr Shahjada Selim said.
He said the number of diabetes patients is higher than that shown in government reports. He surveyed 350 college students between 18-21 years of age and found 50 percent of them have prediabetes and 5.2 percent have diabetes.
"Diabetes is a lifetime disease and its treatment goes on throughout life. However, it can be controlled by willpower and lifestyle. A diabetic patient who leads a disciplined life does not need to use insulin," said BSMMU Director Brig Gen (retd) Shahidul Hoque Mallik.
In 2011, 11 percent of women aged 35 years or more had diabetes, but at present, it is 14 percent. It is the same for males too.
According to the survey, 60 percent of diabetic patients are not aware of their blood glucose level, 13 percent see a doctor regularly and their diabetes is controlled.
22 percent of people know about diabetes and take regular treatment, but their diabetes is not controlled.
Today (Friday) is Diabetes Awareness Day. As it does every year, the Diabetic Association of Bangladesh is observing the day on the occasion of its 64th founding anniversary.