Why the World Should Worry About Diabetes

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It is believed that as at 2014, an estimated 422 million adults were living with diabetes, compared to 108 million in 1980. If the epidemic of ‘Diabetes’ were a country, it would come in at third place in terms of population, behind only China and India. The global prevalence of diabetes has nearly doubled since 1980, rising from 4.7 per cent to 8.5 per cent in the adult population. This reflects an increase in associated risk factors such as being overweight or obese. Over the past decade, diabetes prevalence has risen faster in low and middle-income countries than in high-income countries. World Diabetes Day is the primary global awareness campaign focusing on diabetes mellitus and is held on November 14 each year.

The attention of the international community began to be focused on the ailment after the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/61/225 in 2007 designating that date as World Diabetes Day. The document recognised the urgent need to pursue multilateral efforts to promote and improve human health, and provide access to treatment and health-care education. The resolution also encouraged Member States to develop national policies for the prevention, treatment and care of diabetes in line with the sustainable development of their health-care systems.

Before it became a UN event, World Diabetes Day was launched in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), and the World Health Organization (WHO) in response to the rapid rise of diabetes around the world. Led by IDF, each World Diabetes Day focuses on a theme related to diabetes. Themes of previous World Diabetes Day campaigns had dwelt on different factors that influence the risk of diabetes and its complications: This year’s, 2017, focuses on ‘Women and diabetes – our right to a healthy future.’

By 2016, World Diabetes Day was being celebrated by over 230 IDF member associations in more than 160 countries and territories, as well as by other organisations, companies, healthcare professionals, politicians, celebrities, and people living with diabetes and their families. Activities include diabetes screening programmes, radio and television campaigns, sports events and others. In the main, there are types of Diabetes. The Type 2 Diabetes is largely preventable and treatable non-communicable disease that is rapidly increasing in number worldwide. Type 1 Diabetes is not preventable but can be treated with insulin shots.

Topics covered during activities to mark the day have included diabetes and human rights, diabetes and lifestyle, diabetes and obesity, diabetes in the disadvantaged and the vulnerable, and diabetes in children and adolescents. While the campaign lasts the whole year, the day itself marks the birthday of Frederick Banting, a medical scientist who co-discovered Insulin and was the first person to use it on humans. He, along with Charles Best and John James Rickard Macleod, first conceived the idea which led to the discovery of insulin in 1922.

World Diabetes Day is the world’s largest diabetes awareness campaign reaching a global audience of over 1 billion people in more than 160 countries. The campaign draws attention to issues of paramount importance to the diabetes world and keeps diabetes firmly in the public and political spotlight. The campaign aims to: be the platform to promote IDF advocacy efforts throughout the year; be the global driver to promote the importance of taking coordinated and concerted actions to confront diabetes as a critical global health issue.

The campaign is represented by a blue circle logo that was adopted in 2007 after the passage of the UN Resolution on Diabetes. The blue circle is the global symbol for diabetes awareness. It signifies the unity of the global diabetes community in response to the diabetes epidemic. Persons with uncontrolled diabetes will develop a wide range of complications linked with the disease, some of which could lead to lengthy hospital stays, blindness, foot amputation or death.

About 2.1 million women die every year from diabetes globally, with Nigeria accounting for many of the dead. The disease is recognised as the ninth leading cause of death in women, yet many women with the disease are unaware they have it.

In view of this, IDF members in Nigeria marked the day with free diabetes screening and diabetes foot care education for the public because early detection could save individuals from these complications. Of the theme, they said that it should be of particular interest to Nigerians because the country has one of the highest numbers of persons living with diabetes in Africa. The country also has a large number of women living with diabetes and they are worse off because many do not have access to diagnosis, education, treatment and care. According to IDF, two out of every five women with diabetes are of reproductive age, accounting for over 60 million women worldwide.

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