Canada has the world’s highest prevalence of the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) — Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis — and the incidence of IBD is increasing fast in seniors (older than 65) and children.
A report with those findings, 2018 Impact of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Canada, prepared by researchers in Canada, measured the burden of IBD since 2012.
“The findings within the report should serve as a wake-up call for the Canadian health care system,” Gilaad Kaplan, a gastroenterologist at the University of Calgary and the report’s co-chair author, said in a press release.
“One key takeaway from the report is that Canada is not ready to face the rising number of seniors, children, immigrants, and other high-risk populations who are developing these incurable and potentially devastating diseases,” he said.
While the onset of IBD symptoms — abdominal pain, fatigue and bleeding — typically occurs in adolescence or early adulthood, the new report shows that IBD is rising among seniors.
The incidence of IBD also is increasing especially among people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and among those of South Asian origin.
Currently, 270,000 Canadians live with IBD. But by 2030 estimates point to this number reaching 400,000 — an almost 50 percent increase in the disease prevalence affecting 1 percent of Canadian population.
With this rise in the disease, the treatment costs also are destined to skyrocket; currently, the cumulative cost of IBD treatment is estimated at $1.28 billion.
“Canada needs to be prepared for the growing social and economic impact of Crohn’s and colitis,” said Mina Mawani, president and CEO of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.
“These diseases place a tremendous burden on individuals, on families, and on our healthcare system. The rising rates of Crohn’s and colitis underscore the need to fund more research and improve access to specialized care,” Mawani said.
The report recommends that IBD be regarded as a national health priority by the Canadian national and provincial governments, and that multifaceted teams and resources are available to deal with the increase in disease prevalence among Canadians.
“People diagnosed with Crohn’s or colitis live with a serious disease that causes issues both inside and outside the digestive system, and that can take a toll on someone’s mental health,” Eric Benchimol, a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and a co-chair author of the report.
“Crohn’s and colitis affect all aspects of quality of life and that multi-faceted impact emphasizes the need for multidisciplinary care and understandably adds to the overall financial weight of caring for IBD,” said Benchimol.
The findings and recommendations in the full are available here.