Images from WDF projects in Sri Lanka help explain the human and societal cost of diabetes in Asia – and what’s being done to combat it.
The Silent Epidemic, an article in Asian Geographic’s September 2017 issue, begins with a devastating scene: relatives gathered around the bedside of a farmer who has just had his leg amputated. They came to raise his spirits, but were concerned, the man’s son confided. Tending the crops and getting follow-up care were just a few of the challenges ahead.
The scene was witnessed by Jesper Westley, a photographer visiting WDF partners in Sri Lanka as part of a photo project. His photos and images from that trip provided insights into the human costs of diabetes in Asia, and set the scene for journalist Mangai Balasegaram’s exploration of the problem and what can be done about it.
Asian Geographic Magazine is an award-winning bimonthly publication based in Singapore. Each issue focuses on a specific theme relevant to Asia – the September 2017 theme is food. As Alex Campbell writes in her editor’s note:
“We can’t even begin to discuss food-related crises without discussing diabetes. Sugar helped create the wealth that spearheaded the Industrial Revolution, yielding generations who worked harder and longer with each syrupy sip – but sugar is just one part of the story.”
The article explores the many reasons that 60% of the world’s diabetic population today is Asian. These include an increasing consumption of refined sugar, but also a large number of men who smoke, the decline of physical activity, and the consumption of polished white rice and other high-starch foods. It also explores the genetic factors responsible for Asians developing the disease at a higher rate and younger age than Caucasians.
It mentions WDF’s projects in Sri Lanka and throughout Asia as part of the solution. Since 2002, WDF has provided more than USD52 million to 189 projects across Asia. To learn more about WDF’s work in Sri Lanka, see Sri Lanka national NCD response programme support: WDF12-683 and WDF15-1291
The Silent Epidemic (Asian Geographic, Sept 2017)
Asian Geographic Magazine, Current Affairs section, (Sept. 2017)