The Medical School at the University of St Andrews recently hosted 31 diabetes specialists represented by delegates from Egypt, Russia, Ukraine, Lebanon and South Arica. They attended the tenth annual Postgraduate Diabetes Course, led by Emeritus Professor of Medicine at St Andrews, Ian Campbell. The teaching faculty came from the five Scottish university medical schools, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews and from Birmingham.
Diabetes has now reached epidemic proportions. 8.3% of the world’s population is diabetic but 46% of this is undiagnosed. One person dies every 7 seconds from diabetes and its complications. 25% – 30% of the population in United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are affected. Developing countries such as Ghana now have 10% of diabetes in their population. This diabetes epidemic is related to increasing obesity and decreased exercise. The expanding role of bariatric surgery was reviewed. The problems of gestational diabetes in pregnancy, is now an increasing problem. Type 2 diabetes, usually seen in middle-aged and older individuals, is now occurring in younger people with obesity and poor lifestyle. The average age of onset on type 2 diabetes in the Gulf States in the Middle East is 30 years, compared to 60 in Scotland.
New therapies for diabetes were discussed. There were workshops dealing with complications of diabetes, affecting the eyes, kidneys and feet. The problems of premature heart disease and stroke were highlighted. Acute complications of diabetic coma and hypoglycaemia were reviewed. The future role of genetics in better defining type 2 diabetes and its management illustrated the importance of new research developments in this field.
Professor Ian Campbell, Emeritus Professor at the University, gave an opening address to welcome the delegates and said he hoped the course would sow the seeds of improved diabetes care overseas and lead to stronger links between Scottish Universities and health professionals in developing countries.