The number of diabetes sufferers is growing in India, with health officials concerned that the country will soon have the highest incidence of the disease in the world. Recent data show that there has been a 14% rise in cases in Mumbai alone in the past year. Currently there are more than 34mn diabetics in India.
The alarming rise in diabetes is being driven by changes in lifestyles and an increasingly Westernised culture. Poor diet and lack of exercise are causing growing levels of obesity, which can cause the condition to develop. Medical workers fear that the problem could be worse than first thought, as many people remain undiagnosed, especially in rural areas where it is thought that four out of five people could have the disease and not know about it.
Meanwhile, industry sources are concerned that if diabetes levels continue to grow unchecked they could have a devastating affect on the country's health service as more and more people require hospitalisation. Studies have shown that patients with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease.
However, the prevalence of diabetes in India, as well as other chronic illnesses
such as asthma, is helping the clinical trials sector develop vaccines and treatments.