13 November 2015 – To mark World Diabetes Day on 14 November, WHO is calling for greater action to turn the growing tide of the global diabetes epidemic.
WHO is also marking World Diabetes Day by announcing that the Organization’s annual World Health Day, which recognizes its birthday on 7 April, will focus on the issue of diabetes.
World Health Day will provide an important platform for promoting efforts to prevent diabetes and ensure optimal management of the condition for people living with one of the various forms of disease.
Multiple actions can be done to reduce the impact of diabetes, through adopting healthy lifestyles, such as partaking in physical activity and healthy diets, to government action on curbing the marketing of unhealthy foods and ensuring health systems provide the required services and care for people living with the disease.
World Health Day 2016 on diabetes
As the prevalence of diabetes increases, the need to learn how to minimize one’s risk of getting it, and to know how to detect and treat it, are all increasing in importance. That is why WHO is promoting efforts to highlight the disease on the next World Health Day, 7 April 2016.
Through World Health Day 2016, WHO will seek to:
- increase awareness about the rise in diabetes, and its staggering burden and consequences, in particular in low-and middle-income countries;
- trigger a set of specific, effective and affordable actions to tackle diabetes. These will include steps to prevent diabetes and diagnose, treat and care for people with diabetes;
- launch the first Global report on diabetes which will describe the burden and consequences of diabetes and advocate for stronger health systems to ensure improved surveillance, enhanced prevention, and more effective management of diabetes.
Importantly, the world took a major step recently to address the diabetes epidemic by setting a target to reduce by one-third the deaths attributed to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including diabetes, by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. In this regard, WHO helps countries put in place policies to minimize the impact of NCDs, which include diabetes, cancers, and cardiovascular and lung diseases.
Close to 350 million people in the world have diabetes, a chronic disease that occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or when it cannot effectively use the insulin it does produce to help the body metabolize the sugar that is formed from the food we eat.
Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar, which gives us the energy we need to live. Unable to get into the cells to be burned as energy, the sugar can build up to harmful levels in the blood.
In 2012, diabetes was the direct cause of some 1.5 million deaths, with more than 80% of them occurring in low- and middle-income countries. WHO projects that diabetes will be the 7thleading cause of death by 2030.
There are two main forms of the disease. People with type 1 diabetes typically make none of their own insulin and therefore require insulin injections for survival. People with type 2 diabetes, the form that comprises some 90% of all cases, usually produce their own insulin, but not enough or they are unable to use it properly. People with type 2 diabetes are typically overweight and sedentary.
Over time, high blood sugars can wreak havoc on every major organ system in the body, causing heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, blindness, impotence and infections that can lead to amputations.
But, properly treated, the impact of diabetes can be minimised. Even people with type 1 diabetes can live long and healthy lives if they keep their blood sugars under tight control.