People from all walks of life participate in this truly global event. The stakeholders are many and varied, including diabetes specialists, government officials, advocacy groups, patient’s organizations, media persons, as well as civil society representatives.
‘World Diabetes Day is celebrated on 14th November every year with the primary objective of raising awareness about how to manage diabetes. It lays stress on prevention and control strategies to tackle this silent killer.’
The underlying common objective of all these stakeholders is to generate awareness about diabetes, so that it receives a high priority status on the global health agenda. The ‘Blue Circle’ is the awareness symbol for World Diabetes Day. This symbol was adopted by passing the Resolution on Diabetes by the United Nations (UN) in 2007 and symbolizes the unity of the entire diabetes community in the global fight against this silent killer disease.
The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is the nodal agency that organizes World Diabetes Day. The IDF commenced its journey in 1950 with humble beginnings, but now encompasses over 230 national diabetes associations, across 170 countries. Currently, the IDF is at the forefront of the global diabetes movement and provides support and lends voice to those living with diabetes.
This year, World Diabetes Day will showcase 233 events across 76 countries worldwide. The official partners for these events are AstraZeneca, Merck, Pfizer-MSD Alliance, Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi.
History of World Diabetes Day
The history of World Diabetes Day goes back to 1991. The Day was jointly launched by the IDF and the World Health Organization (WHO). The impetus for starting World Diabetes Day was primarily due to a sharp rise in diabetes cases around the world at that time. World Diabetes Day became an official UN Day in 2006 through an UN Resolution (No. 61/225).
The date – 14 November – coincides with the birth anniversary of Sir Frederick Grant Banting, who along with Dr Charles Herbert Best and Dr John Macleod, discovered insulin in 1922. The following year, Banting and Macleod were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for the discovery of insulin”, as stated in the citation issued by the Nobel Prize Committee.
Theme of World Diabetes Day 2020
Each year, a specific theme is chosen to celebrate World Diabetes Day. The theme focuses on a specific facet of diabetes. This year’s theme is on ‘Nurses and Diabetes’, which celebrates the invaluable contribution of nurses towards diabetes care. It highlights the vital role played by nurses in the management, care and support given to diabetics. It also stresses on the fact that there is currently a shortage of 6 million nurses across the globe. As a result, there is an urgent need for sustained funding for educating and training more nurses, so that they are better equipped to fight this global scourge more effectively.
Diabetes: Facts & Figures
- 463 million adults aged 20-79 years are currently living with diabetes
- By 2045 the global diabetes burden will increase to 700 million
- 374 million people are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- 1 in 5 people above the age of 65 years have diabetes
- 90 percent of diabetes cases are due to type 2 diabetes
- 4.2 million deaths are caused diabetes every year
- Highest number of diabetics are in the age group of 40-59 years
- China has the highest number of diabetes cases – 114.3 million
- India has the second-highest number of diabetes cases – 72.9 million
- 1.1 million children and adolescents are living with type 1 diabetes
- 50 percent of type 2 diabetes is preventable
- 232 million (1 in 2) adults living with diabetes remain undiagnosed
- 20 million live births (1 in 6 births) are affected by diabetes during pregnancy
- 4 in 5 people are unable to recognize the early warning signs of diabetes
- 3 in 4 family members don’t have access to diabetes education programs
- 79 percent of adults with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)
- Economic burden of diabetes is USD 760 billion annually
Diabetes & its Complications
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin (Type 1 diabetes) or the body is unable to properly utilize the insulin (Type 2 diabetes). As a result, the glucose levels in the blood become elevated. When blood levels of glucose become temporarily elevated during pregnancy, the condition is known as gestational diabetes. The major risk factors associated with Type 2 diabetes include a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, unhealthy diet, and a family history of diabetes.
Symptoms & Signs: Three of the most prominent clinical symptoms and signs of diabetes include the following:
- Polyphagia: Excessive hunger
- Polydipsia: Excessive thirst
- Polyuria Frequent urination
Complications: The following three major life-threatening complications can occur if diabetes is left untreated:
- Kidney Failure: This is technically termed as diabetic nephropathy, which results in damage to the nephrons in the kidneys that filter urine. This can eventually lead to kidney failure or total loss of kidney function
- Loss of Vision: This is technically termed as diabetic retinopathy, which results in damage to the retina – the photosensitive lining at the back of the eye, which is responsible for vision. Depending on the severity of the damage to the retina, partial or complete loss of vision can occur, resulting in blindness
- Nerve Damage: This is technically termed as diabetic neuropathy, which results in damage to the peripheral nerves. This can lead to the loss of sensation, tingling (pins-and-needles), or numbness in the limbs. Other complications include burning or shooting pain in the lower legs and foot ulcers. Ulcers of the feet can lead to amputation of the affected leg
Besides the above three major complications, diabetes can result in several other complications, including elevated risk of heart attacks and strokes, as well as oral complications such as inflammation of the gums (periodontitis).
Ways to Celebrate World Diabetes Day
There are many ways to celebrate World Diabetes Day. A few of these are highlighted below:
- Online Educational Talks: Online talks can be organized to inform families and others in the community about the importance of preventing diabetes. Also, the online platform can be judiciously exploited to encourage school-goers to ‘Learn about Diabetes’, an event endorsed by the IDF to spread awareness about diabetes among the student community
- Press Briefings: Setting-up press briefings with the local media, including local news channels can encourage them to cover the events on the occasion of World Diabetes Day. This will help to spread the message by airing the news via TV and radio
- Themed Activities: Activities based on the theme of ‘Nurses and Diabetes’ could be organized. These activities could involve nurses, by inviting them to share their thoughts and experiences in caring for diabetes patients. This would be a great way to generate awareness about diabetes, as well as show respect to our dedicated nurses engaged in improving diabetes care
- Diabetes Teleconsultation: Taking into consideration the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers are encouraged to provide free teleconsultation sessions to diabetic patients, especially those from poor socio-economic backgrounds. This will also enable people living with diabetes to consult top diabetes specialists and gain immensely from their advice. These consultations will also encourage them to monitor their blood sugar regularly
- Promoting the ‘Blue Circle’: The awareness logo for World Diabetes Day is the ‘Blue Circle’. Therefore, wearing the ‘Blue Circle’ logo on T-shirts, caps and other attire, or forming a human blue circle, or taking a blue circle-framed snapshot, can generate immense awareness and show solidarity to the millions living with diabetes
- Lighting Up in ‘Blue’: As a part of the celebrations, lighting-up prominent buildings, landmarks and monuments can be a delightful way of generating awareness about diabetes. This will be a feast for the eyes and therefore, will have a deep impact on people – both diabetics and non-diabetics alike. Some of the famous buildings that have been previously lit-up on World Diabetes Day include the London Eye, the California Statehouse (Sacramento), Ferry Building (San Francisco), Empire State Building (New York), Willis Tower (Chicago), and Brisbane City Hall
- Social Media Campaigns: Judicious use of various social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can immensely help to spread the word far and wide in no time at all. This year, the IDF is organizing a ‘Twitter Chat’ on ‘The Role of the Nurse in Diabetes Care’, which is in line with this year’s theme. The IDF encourages people to join the program and ‘like’ and ‘retweet’ it as much as possible
Innovative Tools for Diabetes Care
The following innovative tools have been recently developed for diabetic patients:
- Diabetes: M Mobile App: This app has been developed by Sirma Medical Systems, which is based in Sofia, Bulgaria. This app is very advanced and user-friendly and incorporates attractive features, such as a glucose logbook and food database, as well as analytical graphs, charts, and reports. It also has a reminder option so that insulin injections medications, and blood glucose checks are not missed
- mDiabetes Mobile App: The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India and the WHO Country Office (India) have jointly developed a new mobile app called mDiabetes. This app helps in diabetes care and prevention
- Online Tool for Assessment of Diabetic Risk: The IDF has developed a new online test that can predict an individual’s risk of getting Type 2 diabetes within the next 10 years. The test is based on the Finnish Diabetes Risk Score (FINDRISC), which has been developed by scientists at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, Finland
Health Tips for Management of Diabetes
A healthy lifestyle is the cornerstone for the prevention and control of diabetes. Some of the things that should be done to maintain a healthy lifestyle include the following:
- Eat Well: Eating a healthy, nutritious and balanced diet can significantly reduce the risk of diabetes. A healthy diet should be low in sugar and saturated fats such as butter, cream, and cheese, which should be replaced with polyunsaturated fats such as vegetable oils. It should also contain lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Avoid Tobacco and Alcohol: Tobacco products, especially cigarettes, cigars and pipes should be avoided at all costs. Smokeless tobacco products must also be avoided. Alcohol consumption must also be limited
- Be Physically Active: Physical activity is essential for keeping blood glucose levels within normal limits. Aerobic exercises such as jogging, swimming, and cycling, as well as resistance training are recommended for at least 3 to 5 days a week for a minimum duration of 30 to 45 minutes
- Monitor Blood Glucose Regularly: Regular self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) using a glucometer is recommended to check for any fluctuations in blood glucose levels. Based on the SMBG results, the doses of antidiabetic medications can be adjusted accordingly
- Take Medicines Regularly: All prescribed medications must be taken regularly. This is very important for keeping blood glucose levels in check. Common oral diabetic medications include metformin, sulfonylureas, glipizide, and in severe cases, insulin injections
- COVID-19 package welcome but much more to do – (https://ama.com.au/media/covid-19-package-welcome-much-more-do)
- Diabetes: Nurses Make the Difference – (https://worlddiabetesday.org/)
- About Diabetes – International Diabetes Federation (IDF) – (https://www.idf.org/aboutdiabetes/what-is-diabetes.html)
- World Diabetes Day 2020 – Diabetes UK – (https://www.diabetes.org.uk/get_involved/world-diabetes-day)
- Test 2 Prevent: Know Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes – (https://www.idf.org/type-2-diabetes-risk-assessment/)
- Diabetes: M Mobile App – (https://www.diabetes-m.com/)