Muscat: An average of 730 people die of diabetes each year in Oman, which is a chilling statistic indicating how this deadly disease has spread throughout the Sultanate.
There are over 170,000 Omanis suffering from diabetes, nearly 13 per cent of the country's population, according to official statistics, most of them in major cities such as Muscat, Sohar and Salalah.
According to officials at the World Health Organisation (WHO), only eight countries in the world have a higher percentage of citizens with diabetes than Oman.
Further, doctors say the death rate in Oman is expected to increase if people do not make changes in how they live.
"It is very alarming. Most of these deaths are unnecessary because patients would have avoided the disease if they had only led healthier lifestyles. They eat too much, do less exercise and never go for regular check-ups. The deaths will increase unless we create more awareness about diabetes," Dr Aisha Al Harthy, a government hospital doctor, told Times of Oman.
Apart from deaths, thousands of Omani patients suffer from complications such as blindness and amputations, hospitals figures show. But Dr Aisha said only half of the public receives regular medical checks, either due to the public's negligence or because available facilities are inadequate.
The ministry of health requires every diabetic patient to have a number of medical tests each year, including to monitor blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol levels, skin conditions, blood circulation in the feet and eye examinations for damage to the retina.
"We also need to change the way we deliver care in our hospitals, such as making available more funds that would cut down queues, employ more people and build more hospitals," Dr Aisha added.
Obesity is the major cause of diabetes in Oman, where 7 per cent of patients are children under the age of 6, about 10 per cent school children, 12 per cent teenagers, while the remainder are adults.
Diabetes is a condition in which a person has a high blood sugar (glucose) level as a result of the body either not producing enough insulin or because body cells do not properly respond to the insulin that is produced. Last month, the Ministry of Health opened the RO4 million National Diabetes and Endocrine Centre at Bausher, opposite the Royal Hospital, to combat diabetes and conduct research to prevent the continuing spread of the disease.