Diabetes-Related Mortality

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A product of Chinas rapid economic development is the transition in public health issues from infectious diseases to non-communicable diseases. Not only has urbanization changed Chinas economy, but it has also led to changes on the individual level. Personal lifestyle, diet, and social norms are a few of the main aspects that have led to diabetes taking priority over other non-communicable diseases that currently need serious attention (Yang, et al., 2012).

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In fact, China is experiencing the worst epidemic in the world, with 10% of its population (over 110 million individuals) in 2016 being diagnosed with full-blown diabetes. The CDC reported that the rate in rural areas is increasing faster than in urban areas.

This epidemic has placed enormous stress onto rural health care facilities through a high utilization of hospitals, as well as rising insurance costs (Wang F. , 2016). Living with diabetes is a huge financial burden, especially those covered by the rural health insurance plan, where 24% of household income will go to treatment (Liu, Vortherms, & Hong, 2017). There is also a huge economic burden that is placed on the country itself, with medical expenses for diabetes being one of the main leaders of poverty. Therefore, this issue is important because not only does it directly affect public health in rural areas, but its consequences also reach other key systems of society. There seems to be a harmful reinforcement between poor health and low socioeconomic status in rural provinces that is crippling Chinas health care system (Le, Jun, Zhankun, Yichun, & Jie, 2011).

A nationwide study conducted by the Epidemiological studies unit of the University of Oxford in 2017 found that despite prevalence rates being higher in urban areas, mortality rates were actually higher in rural areas. Looking into cause-specific deaths related to diabetes, the authors found a drastic difference in the risk ratio for chronic kidney disease, which was 18.69 and 6.83 for rural and urban areas respectively (Monaco, 2017). Currently, the demographics show that adults over 35 years of age with low income make up the majority of individuals that are diagnosed (Wang, et al., 2017).

However, the age bracket for acquiring diabetes has been continually decreasing. The American Diabetes Association reported that there has been an increasing rate in young individuals in rural areas. This is significant because they have a higher risk for chronic complications which lead to mortality (Hu & Jia, 2017). This also speaks to a lack of proper health education and schooling in rural provinces.

Currently, there is a large focus on treating the symptoms and outcomes of diabetes. The government spends the equivalent of $50 billion annually on diabetes alone. That is 13% of the total national health care expenditures. However, this has had minimal effect so far in rural areas.

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