Published:  12:46 AM, 30 September 2023

Global survey finds diabetes goes undiagnosed in 40 percent of cases

Global survey finds diabetes goes undiagnosed in 40 percent of cases
About 40% of people living with diabetes globally go undiagnosed, according to new research. Most people who are not diagnosed live in Africa (60%), followed by south-east Asia (57%) and the western Pacific region (56%), says the 2023 diabetes global industry overview, the largest survey of its type to date, the Guardian reports.

Half of those who are diagnosed do not receive treatment, said the report. Three in four people with the condition live in low and middle-income countries where people cannot always access healthcare services.

Sasha Korogodski, the report's lead researcher, said more than 530 companies were found to be specialising in diabetes diagnostics around the world but only 33 were located in Africa, south-east Asia and the western Pacific.

"Limited healthcare infrastructure, including a shortage of healthcare professionals and diagnostic equipment, can impede the early diagnosis of diabetes," Korogodski said. The research, published on Thursday, looks at more than 2,800 companies, 1,500 investors and 80 research and development hubs focused on the condition.

The report said the "stark disparity" in treatment "highlights the pressing need to improve access to diabetic care on a global scale".

Caroline Mbindyo, the chief executive of Amref Health Innovations, part of the NGO Amref Health Africa, said half of all Africans do not have access to the healthcare they need. People living in remote areas can live hours or days from a facility. "The reality is that the time and expense to make this journey means that it isn't even an option for many in these communities. It is impossible for them to get to these services," she said.

In 2021, nearly 7 million deaths around the world were the result of diabetes despite more than $9 70bn (£79 4bn) spent on treatment, according to the research. Most of the organisations in the report are located in the US.

More than 70 companies producing diabetes drugs (55%) are in the US with 17% in Europe. The global diabetes market is mainly divided into four giant monopolies, said the research: Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, Eli Lilly and Merck. Together they account for about 72% of the market.

Diabetes is on the rise. Rapid urbanisation and the effects of the climate crisis on harvests have led to an increase in cheap processed food, which has replaced more traditional food sources in diets. "Combined with the move to more sedentary lifestyles, particularly in urban centres, this leads to increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension and certain cancers," said Mbindyo.

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