According to the International Diabetes Federation in its 10th edition of the IDF Diabetes Atlas released last December, the number of people living with diabetes globally has more than tripled over the past two decades to 537 million in 2021 – up from 151 million in 2000.
The report estimated that the direct health expenditure due to diabetes was nearly $1 trillion and that it will exceed this value by 2030 when the number of people with diabetes is forecast to hit 643 million. This would make the condition one of the most expensive chronic diseases for healthcare today.
Last year 6.7 million people died of diabetes-related causes, accounting for one in eight deaths globally.
Responding to the growingly urgent situation, the Global Diabetes Compact has been launched to highlight the need for multi-stakeholder action to halt the rise of diabetes worldwide. Members of the United Nations have also adopted a resolution calling for emergency global coordination to address this health challenge.
Technology breakthroughs help shape future diabetes care
At Abbott – a company dedicated to helping people get and stay healthy throughout their life’s journey – the development of life-changing technology has begun with the integration of insights based on data, access and affordability, and global impacts.
FreeStyle Libre system – the world’s leading wearable glucose monitoring sensor system – is a breakthrough created by Abbott as the company has relentlessly been innovating and developing accessible and cost-effective healthcare technology solutions with the goal of helping address the challenges of diabetes treatment and other chronic diseases.
In late October, Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) technology, which has been helping millions of people with diabetes globally, was named the Best Medical Technology of the last 50 years by The Galien Foundation.
The award for the FreeStyle Libre system – brought to Vietnam by the global healthcare leader in March 2021 – is popularly considered as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in biopharmaceutical research, recognising the most outstanding global innovations that have had the greatest impact on society.
“Abbott's FreeStyle Libre portfolio has revolutionised how people live with diabetes, eliminating the need for traditional fingersticks,” said Jared Watkin, senior vice president of Abbott's diabetes care business, on the occasion of the company receiving the award on October 27 in New York City.
“Today, approximately 4.5 million people around the world use this life-changing technology to manage their diabetes and improve their health outcomes, helping them to live fuller and healthier lives every day,” Watkin added.
Along with the recognition by the Galien Foundation for the FreeStyle Libre system, Abbott has received 11 Prix Galien Awards for its innovations in pharmaceuticals and medical technology over the years.
Chairman of the Galien Foundation Bruno Cohen stated, “The companies behind these amazing innovations have a bold passion for change which has led to the development of life-saving products.”
FreeStyle Libre detects not only real-time glucose levels but also their patterns. As a result, the retrospective information then can be used to help patients adjust their lifestyles and help healthcare professionals make better treatment decisions, scaling down diabetes complications and risks.
Consequently, more than 40 countries including Japan, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States have introduced full or partial reimbursements since Abbott's FreeStyle Libre system was launched.
In Vietnam, where 3.8 million people were diagnosed with diabetes mellitus in 2019, the number has been forecast by the IDF to roughly double by 2045. However, the number has already risen to an estimated 4.8 million in 2021, with more than half of patients being unaware of their condition.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Health has recommended CGM for those wanting better glucose self-monitoring and hospital patients that need accurate real-time glucose monitoring.
Douglas Kuo, divisional vice president and general manager of Abbott in Vietnam said, “Abbott’s revolutionary FreeStyle Libre technology has changed the way millions of people manage diabetes globally and Vietnamese people living with the disease now have the chance to manage it better by making adjustments to their diet, medication, or lifestyle.”
For a healthier tomorrow
Following the application of FreeStyle Libre technology that allows easy and well-informed glucose monitoring, Abbott is expanding its presence in bio wearables by developing a first-of-its-kind dual monitoring system, which is expected to be a major advancement in diabetes tech that will enable people with the condition to continuously monitor glucose and ketone levels in one sensor. That sensor happens to be the same size as Abbott's FreeStyle Libre 3 sensor, the world’s smallest and thinnest CGM sensor.
The goal of the new dual monitoring system is early detection of diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially fatal condition in which ketones – the chemicals produced by the liver and used for energy – climb to dangerous levels in the blood. Pivotal trials will take place in 2023 followed by regulatory submissions thereafter.
In addition to regular glucose monitoring, proper diet and appropriate exercise form the three key elements in diabetes care. Abbott has now offered a comprehensive solution for diabetes care, including FreeStyle Libre glucose monitoring technology and a special nutritional formula named Glucerna for people with diabetes. Following more than 50 clinical studies spanning 30 years, Glucerna is clinically proven to help control glucose and boost cardiovascular health.
Abbott and its foundation – the Abbott Fund – set the Future Well Kids programme in motion in 2019. It is designed to educate and inspire pre-teens to build up healthy lifestyles in order to prevent non-communicable diseases such as diabetes in the future.
The programme has had a positive influence in several countries around the world and is a testament to Abbott's long-serving mission to help shape the future of global healthcare in particular and improve community health in general.
Following reports that Vietnamese people detected with diabetes are younger, and with more cases found among children of 9-13 years old and also young people aged between 20 and 30, the programme is regarded as an urgent scheme that will be implemented soon for secondary school pupils.
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