The speakers of the discussion were Eduard Toromanyan, Professor, Chief Endocrinologist of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Armenia, Head of the Endocrinology Center of “ARMENIA” Republican Medical Center, Yelena Aghajanova, Professor, Head of the Department of Endocrinology of YSMU, Head of the Endocrinology Clinic of the Muratsan University Hospital, Chief Pediatric Endocrinologist at the RA Ministry of Health, Vardanush Petrosyan, Nutritionist, gastroenterologist, Scientific-Research Institute of SPA Treatment and Physical Medicine of RA Ministry of Health, and Varvara Kalashyan, Operations Manager of Armenian EyeCare Project.
At the beginning of the discussion, Eduard Toromanyan underlined that like cardiovascular diseases and cancers, diabetes rank 3rd according to early disability and mortality rate.
According to the Chief Endocrinologist, currently there are 400 million diabetics across the world.
‘The numbers rise year by year. If in 2000 there were only 200 million diabetics, now it has doubled. The same goes for Armenia. If in 2000 there were 40 thousand diabetics, today 83 thousand diabetics are registered. This means we have 2-fold rise in Armenia as well. These numbers will gradually increase and 500 million diabetics are expected by 2020’, Toromanyan says.
He notes that by the end of the year the number of diabetics in Armenia will exceed 90 thousand.
‘7000-8000 new cases are registered annually. The number of new patients registered each year has also increased. If in 2000 we registered 2 thousand new patients, now the rate has surged 5-folds’, Toromanyan says.
Fight against diabetes has 4 pillars, says the Chief Endocrinologist. These are diet, physical activity, medication treatment and self-control.
‘The absence of one of the mentioned pillars makes the treatment of a diabetic useless’, Toromonyan says, adding that the causes of the debates are first of all genetics and secondly, obesity.
According to the data of October 2017, there are 520 children (under 18) diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Absolute deficiency of insulin is characteristic of the diabetes. This means that insulin-producing cells are decayed and the only option is to receive the insulin from outside. Children receive it immediately after being diagnosed by the means of injection of two types of insulin several times a day. All the children in Armenia are provided with the two types of insulin. Now we have both human and analogue insulins, which are considered more modern forms of insulin, and children receive it in various ways’, Aghajanova says.
In contrast to 2016, 474 diabetic children were registered in 2017. The increase is present also among children.
But the experts note Armenia has no problems with providing insulin. Everyone receives it and the issue of providing anti-diabetic drugs is also partially solved.
Speaking about health life-style and diet, which is one of the key pillars of the fight against diabetes, Vardanush Petrosyan noted that a series of activities are implemented by the states across the world to make healthy lifestyle easier and more available.
‘For example, foodstuff producers have been obliged to indicate if there is sugar, added sugar or other additives. The U.S. government adopted a decision obliging producers to indicate if sugar is added to the food composition or no. Secondly, a state can oblige producers to produce healthier products, non-fat dairy – something that the U.S. government has already obliged the producers to do and to produce very low-fat dairy. Now it obliges to produce also healthy, dietetic food’, Petrosyan says.
She emphasizes that the Armenian legislation has some gaps in this regard. There are no legally defined standards and there are no regulations.
‘We must create such a field where healthy food is available for people. Even in developed countries healthy food is not very cheap but here some states impose taxes on non-healthy food so as they become more expensive. In a way, they raise the price of unhealthy food and reduce the price of healthy food’, Petrosyan says.
In addition to this, Petrosyan also addressed some important advice to the public – to choose the right food, read the composition, not to focus on the intellectual development of the child if his physical health is not in a good shape and to substitute white flour with unbleached wheat flour.
Varvara Kalashyan presented the 3-year project of ‘Prevention of blindness in Armenia due to diabetic retinopathy’ implemented in Armenia by the Armenian Eye Care Project with the support of the World Diabetes Foundation since March 1, 2017.
‘Diabetes rate rises year by year. The number of the patients rises and it goes parallel with eye complications, such as diabetic retinopathy. Preliminary data shows that 90% of diabetics face some eye problems during the life and 1/3 of them finally develop diabetic retinopathy. And naturally, in case of non-regulated diabetes the risk for complications rises, including blindness’, Kalashayan says.
Examinations, trainings for ophthalmologists, family doctors and nurses are conducted within the framework of the project.
‘We also work with the public. We have already implemented the project in Kotayq and Gegharkunik. Nearly 300 people have received laser treatment in the sidelines of this project. Now we implement it in Shirak. All the diabetics will have the opportunity to pass a special examination that will give an opportunity to be diagnosed within 3 minutes and in case of necessity will be immediately sent to the mobile eye hospital’, Kalashyan said, adding that the project will cover all the provinces of Armenia during the 3 years of its implementation.
Lilit Arakelyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”
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