Call for inquiry into diabetes in Birmingham

A local councillor has called for a city-wide inquiry into diabetes in Birmingham, with rates in the city more than twice as high as the national average.

Cllr Majid Mahmood supported the demonstration
Cllr Majid Mahmood supported the demonstration

Speaking at this week’s meeting of the city council, Cllr Majid Mahmood (Bromford and Hodge Hill) explained how diabetes is viewed in the South Asian community as ‘the next biggest killer’ after cardiovascular disease, and urged the council to team up with neighbouring Sandwell council to look into the issue.

Recent figures show that Birmingham has more than twice the rate of diabetes as the national average, with 9.58 per cent of people in Birmingham receiving a diagnosis compared with around five per cent nationally.

And Cllr Mahmood wants to see the council take action to help communities – particularly those with a background in Africa, the Caribbean or South Asia – get to grips with the disease.

“I understand from numerous studies that the rate of diabetes in Birmingham is more than twice the national average, and even more so if you have origins in Africa, the Caribbean or South Asia,” he said.

“Unfortunately diabetes contributes to high rates of cardiovascular diseases and within the South Asian community is viewed in large parts of the medical profession as being the next biggest killer. However it can be treated to a certain extent if there is early diagnosis, changes in lifestyle and diet control.

“Lord Mayor, I know the Health and Social Care committee are undertaking a detailed study into infant mortality for which many thanks. Upon conclusions of that study perhaps the committee jointly, with the Sandwell health committee – as Sandwell also has a high rate of diabetes amongst their population –  an inquiry could take place around diabetes in our respective jurisdictions.

“If the agenda permits will the chair of Health and Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee commit to bring to the agenda diabetes in the city, looking at aspects such as early testing of citizens, raising awareness and the undertaking of a genetic study in high-risk groups to help scientists understand and treat patients at the earliest possible opportunity?”

And, speaking after the meeting, Cllr Mahmood added: “I am extremely worried with the high rates of diabetes amongst citizens in the city especially those from an Afro-Caribbean and South Asian background.

“In addition, with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic I believe this has had a knock on effect with people who are at high risk of diabetes in seeking help. Im hopeful that if an inquiry is carried we will be able to influence the NHS to bring about mandatory testing for people over 40, raise awareness at events in the city, and perhaps even carry out a genetics study in high risk groups to help scientists to better understand and treat patients at the earliest.”

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