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Analysis: The opportunities of diabetes in Asia

“The Asia-Pacific region presents lucrative opportunities for multinational pharmaceutical firms that treat diabetes,” says BMI Research in Singapore in a new report on healthcare in Asia. Fuelled by rapid urbanisation, nutrition transition and increasingly sedentary lifestyles, the epidemic has grown in parallel with the worldwide rise in obesity. Asia’s large population and rapid economic development have made it an epicentre of the epidemic, with India and China the key hotspots in the region, it explains.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reckons that 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, and forecasts that these deaths will double between 2016 and 2030. The epidemic of diabetes, as well as the burden of related non-communicable diseases, is challenging public health and hospital systems around the world – particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. Though the prevalence of obesity in Asia is relatively low compared with that across Western populations, BMI argues that Asia Pacific’s vast population and rapid economic development presents significant opportunities for companies in diabetes therapeutic field.

The size of the problem is significant. Patients with diabetes in Asia now account for more than 60% of the global diabetic population, with the majority residing in the largest and most populous countries; India and China.

 “We note that India and China are by far the two largest markets in the region for diabetes medicines,” writes BMI. According to International Diabetes Federation, there were 69.1 million cases of diabetes in India in 2015 and 109 million cases of diabetes in China. Last year, India’s population lost 9.2 million disability-adjusted life years to diabetes, China lost 8.2 million years and Indonesia lost 2.9 million years. “The significant increase in the prevalence of diabetes in India and China has occurred over a short period of time, largely driven by sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets,” it adds.

Due to elevated behavioural risks causing a strain on the region’s healthcare systems, governments have begun to introduce initiatives aimed at reversing this trend. Moreover, given the high financial burden of treating diabetes, there will be greater emphasis placed on preventative care. In India, BMI cites a national programme for control of diabetes has been rolled out across the country, to improve diabetes awareness levels at a national level. The government has also imposed a hefty tax of 28% on diabetes-inducing food substances under the Goods and Services Tax regime in an attempt to dissuade consumption of unhealthy food. And in China, World Diabetes Day and several similarly themed publicity events have been used to spread information on diabetes prevention and to raise public health literacy. Public health lifestyle campaigns have been pushed forward to advocate rational diet and adequate exercise, and to discourage smoking and the consumption of alcohol.

Posted on: 14/06/2017 UTC+08:00


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