Making diabetes count. A systematic approach to estimating population prevalence on the island of Ireland in 2005
Crowd in street

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition associated with significant morbidity and mortality. It is the most common cause of retinopathy and nephropathy in the Western world, and is associated with a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and peripheral vascular disease. Early diagnosis and appropriate management is essential to reduce the occurrence of these complications. 

The number of people with diabetes on the island is expected to increase because our population is growing, it is ageing and obesity rates are rising. Accurate estimates of the population prevalence of diabetes allow us to describe the patterns of diabetes in the population, estimate the number of undiagnosed cases, plan and deliver services in a rational way, and monitor performance. 

Until now, national estimates have been based on the application of international averages to resident population counts or extrapolation from local studies. Reliable detailed sub-national estimates have not been available.The absence of accurate detailed prevalence estimates has hampered planning of services for the prevention, care and monitoring of diabetes. 

The main aims of this study were to: i. provide the best available estimates of the population prevalence of diabetes (diagnosed and undiagnosed) on the island at national and sub-national levels ii. promote a more systematic approach to the development of such estimates iii. make recommendations to tackle inadequacies in existing research and data

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