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The number of diabetics in Cuba has doubled over the last decade, reaching more than half million at the end of 2012, a local expert said on Thursday which marks World Diabetes Day.

Some 513,000 Cubans have been diagnosed with the disease, but a similar number of people could have diabetes without knowing it, said Dr. Ileydis Iglesias, director of the National Diabetic Treatment Centre. He said most diabetics were aged between 60 and 64. 
The chances of having diabetes increase with the prevalence of such risk factors as obesity, low levels of physical activity and poor nutrition, he said, adding that diabetes mellitus and its complications, however, are largely preventable. 
With that in mind, Cuba has put in place a national programme for treating diabetic patients, including pregnant women, children and adolescents, and has made headway in developing drugs to improve their condition and treat complications. 
In the case of patients with diabetic foot and related ulcers, more than 25,000 have benefitted from the Cuban-made biotech drug Heberprot-P, which helps avoid the need for amputations of the lower limbs. 
The International Diabetes Federation estimates that 371 million people worldwide suffer from the disease, half of them unaware of their condition, and 4.8 million die from the affliction each year. 
World Diabetes Day is observed on Nov 14, the birthday of Frederick Banting, co-discoverer of insulin.


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