India 15 November 2022 – New research from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) reveals that nearly half (43%) of people living with diabetes in India did not receive sufficient information and education about their condition when they were diagnosed. The figures – released ahead of World Diabetes Day on Monday 14 November – also show that just under one in three (31%) do not receive regular education from their healthcare provider, with one in five (20%) feeling they do not have access to diabetes education.
Going it alone
More than 74 million people are living with diabetes in India, according to the latest IDF estimates released in 2021. The majority are spending less than two hours per year in consultation with a healthcare professional. For the vast majority of the time, therefore, they are looking after themselves. Access to information and education at the time of diagnosis and beyond is critical to support diabetes self-care, thereby enabling people living with diabetes to effectively manage their condition. When diabetes is not well managed, the risk of serious health complications increases. These include heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, blindness and lower-limb amputation.
Two thirds (66%) of people living with diabetes in India reported appointments of less than 15 minutes, which is not sufficient to discuss treatment and provide advice on important topics such as diet and exercise. Furthermore, over one in three (42%) do not have in-person or online consultations with a diabetes educator, nurse or dietitian to receive additional information to help manage their condition.
The number of people with diabetes is growing fast. By 2030, IDF predicts that the number of people living with diabetes in India will have surpassed 92 million. This places a strain on healthcare resources and may push people to seek advice through informal, non-medical channels. IDF’s research suggests that one in three people in India turn to Google (33%) for their diabetes education, and just under a third (29%) turn to social media.
“This research shows an immediate need for additional support for people living with diabetes in India,” said Professor Shashank Joshi, Chair, IDF South-East Asia. “They need to understand their condition and keep their diabetes knowledge up to date, in order to manage it effectively. We need better access to diabetes education today to protect tomorrow.”
Healthcare workers are struggling to access training
The research also shows that there is a gap in funding and investment for diabetes education for healthcare professionals living in India. Although many doctors and nurses are trying to support people in their care by improving their diabetes knowledge, just under half (44%) have to self-fund all of their diabetes training. Furthermore, many healthcare professionals in India were found to lack sufficient printed or digital resources, with almost one in five (19%) indicating that they did not have access to educational tools that they could pass on to their patients.
IDF is committed to facilitating learning opportunities for all people involved in diabetes care. Free interactive courses are available to help people with diabetes and their carers to understand and manage the condition. For healthcare professionals, the IDF School of Diabetes offers a selection of free and premium online courses to help them keep up-to-date with various aspects of diabetes management and treatment. Find out more at www.worlddiabetesday.org/understandingdiabetes.