The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is urging better control of diabetes to prevent related complications, as well as potentially life-threatening complications associated with coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in the Americas, including the Caribbean.
PAHO also calls for continued access to primary health care services and treatment for people living with diabetes amid the new coronavirus.
“We are doubly concerned about the risk that diabetes may pose to those living with the disease in general and during the pandemic in particular,” said PAHO Director Dr Carissa F Etienne.
“People with diabetes, who do not have access to health services and medications that allow adequate control, are at greater risk of developing complications, such as visual impairment, kidney disease and lower extremity amputations, but are now also at greater risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract COVID-19,” she said.
In the Americas, PAHO said more than 60 million people are living with diabetes, primarily type 2, warning that, if no action is taken, it is estimated that there will be more than 100 million adults with the disease by 2040.
In addition, each year, PAHO said more than 340,000 people in the region die from diabetes-related complications.
PAHO said COVID-19 has already infected more than 21 million people in the region and that cases continue to rise. It said the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the daily routines of millions of people in the region and has made the disease more difficult to manage.