Diabetes is a silent killer whose onset and progression are painless, thereby masking its severe dangers. Possible complications from diabetes include cardiovascular disease and damage to nerves, the kidneys, the eyes, the feet, the ears and the skin, among other health problems. Heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, blindness, limb amputation, depression and dementia are all associated with the killer. Yet, the public fear of this disease is hardly commensurate with its lethality.
The Ministerial Conference on Diabetes held here recently highlighted the international threat posed by the scourge. About 450 million people suffer from it globally. In Singapore, the number of afflicted is projected to rise from about 450,000 now to one million by 2050, if current trends continue. The global annual healthcare expenditure on diabetes is estimated to have been more than US$700 billion (S$960 billion) last year. Apart from direct medical expenses, costs are incurred by individuals in terms of lost income and a lower quality of life, and by the nation from lost productivity.