Deaths caused by diabetes increased significantly in 2020 and 2021 compared to previous years due to a lack of preventative measures, deficiencies in the public health system and pandemic-related reasons, according to a prominent doctor followed by many Mexicans online.
Data from the national statistics agency INEGI shows there were 291,748 diabetes deaths in Mexico in 2020 and 2021, a 42% increase compared to the previous two years. Just over 151,000 of those deaths occurred in 2020, while there were almost 141,000 last year.
INEGI data also shows that diabetes was the third biggest killer in Mexico last year behind COVID-19 and heart disease.
The federal Health Ministry issued a health alert about the problem in late 2016 due to the high prevalence of diabetes and obesity in Mexico, but diabetes deaths exceeded 100,000 in every subsequent year, spiking notably in 2020 – the first year of the coronavirus pandemic – before declining by about 7% last year.
Héctor Rossete, a Tlaxcala-based doctor and surgeon with a large following on social media, criticized the current federal government for not doing more to prevent diabetes and for not addressing problems in the public health system. Those two factors, as well as a failure to adequately monitor and treat diabetes patients during the pandemic, have caused deaths from the disease to increase, he told the newspaper El Universal.
“Not considering prevention is a hallmark of this government. The health system is lacking and without supplies, and that has had a negative impact on patients’ health. … Investment in health has been decreasing, public policies in the health sector require a lot of improvement, but there must be interest and concern for that [to occur],” Rossete said.
“Authorities currently don’t have a clear strategy [to combat the diabetes epidemic],” the doctor asserted.
The high rate of diabetes among Mexicans – data shows that 16.9% of adults aged 20 to 79 have the disease – was a contributing factor to Mexico’s high COVID-19 death toll. Health Ministry data shows that almost 37% of over 330,000 people who have died from COVID in Mexico suffered from diabetes, making the disease the second most common comorbidity after high blood pressure.
In a statement published Monday – World Diabetes Day – the World Health Organization (WHO) said that “globally, around 422 million people have diabetes, and 1.5 million deaths are directly attributed to diabetes every year.”
Some 12.4 million type 1 and type 2 diabetes sufferers are Mexicans, according to data collected via the 2021 National Health and Nutrition Survey.
With reports from El Universal