The increasing number of people suffering from diabetes could cost the nation at least Rp 5 trillion (US$438 million) by the time the universal healthcare program is implemented early next year, Hasbullah Tabrany, a professor of public health from the University of Indonesia’s (UI) School of Public Health, said on Tuesday.
Data from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) for 2012 showed that 371 million people worldwide had diabetes, half of which were undiagnosed. Also, 4.8 million people died from the disease, which is sometimes called the “silent killer” due to the subtleness of its symptoms. Among nations, Indonesia ranked seventh in the world, with 7.6 million diabetics. Of that number, only 41 percent had been diagnosed with the disease, 39 percent had received treatment and a mere 1 percent took regular medication.
“We estimated that the financial burden caused by diabetes would be between Rp 5 trillion and Rp 8 trillion by the time universal healthcare coverage is implemented next year,” Hasbullah said during the launching of Blue Print For Change, a report on diabetes in Indonesia conducted by global healthcare subsidiary PT Novo Nordisk Indonesia, in cooperation with the Health Ministry. “We get the figure by calculating the total expenditure for medicine and laboratory expenses for the 7.6 million diabetics who will be covered by the government,” he said.
“However, the calculation is incomplete because it doesn’t take into account the loss in wages incurred when a patient is on sick leave. We also haven’t calculated the productivity loss,” he said.
Hasbullah said that diabetes ranked third in total healthcare spending, after cardiovascular disease and cancer, with Rp 12 trillion and Rp 10 trillion in estimated annual expenditures, respectively.
According to the Blue Print for Change report, by 2030 the number of people with diabetes in Indonesia will increase to 11.8 million, with an annual growth of 6 percent, exceeding the country’s overall population growth. The report also says that some 32 million Indonesians were expected to move from rural to urban areas between now and 2030. Increased diabetes rates are related to improvement in living standards, lack of exercise and poor dietary habits — all of which tend to accompany urbanization.
The report also says that only 7 percent of total healthcare spending in Indonesia was on diabetes, which is considered low.
The Health Ministry’s director general for disease control and environmental health, Tjandra Yoga Aditama, said that one government effort to prevent non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, was by controlling the amount of sugar, salt and fat in food products, which had been rolled out in a ministerial decree enacted in April. “We are in a transition period now. We are hoping to fully implement the decree by 2016 because we need time to prepare it and to socialize this policy,” Tjandra told reporters on Tuesday.
He said that after the transition period was over, all restaurants as well as processed-food manufacturers would have to attach labels about the amount of sugar, salt and fat contained in their products. “By observing those health messages, we hope the public can limit its consumption of sugar, salt and fat, to prevent suffering from non-communicable disease,” Tjandra said.