The World Health Organization states that one in two of the people who has diabetes goes undiagnosed. Despite all the past initiatives, awareness, screening and prevention advice shared, the number of diabetic cases are rising, making it easy to understand why an awareness day is needed. World Diabetes Day (WDD) signifies the unity of the global diabetes community in response to the diabetes epidemic.

It is the world’s largest diabetes awareness campaign reaching a global audience of over one billion people in more than 160 countries. The campaign draws attention to issues of paramount importance to the diabetes world and keeps this debilitating disease firmly in the public and political spotlight.

It was created in 1991 by the International Diabetic Federation(IDF) and the World Health Organization. World Diabetes Day became an official United Nations Day in 2006 with the passage of United Nation Resolution 61/225. It is marked every year on 14 November, the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who co-discovered insulin along with Charles Best in 1922.

Every year, the World Diabetes Day campaign focuses on a dedicated theme that runs for one or more years. The theme for World Diabetes Day 2020 is The Nurse and Diabetes. The campaign aims to raise awareness around the crucial role that nurses play in supporting people living with diabetes.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO):

– Nurses accounts for 59% of health professionals

– The global shortage of nurses in 2018 was 5.9 million.

– 89% of that shortage is concentrated in low- and middle-income countries

– Approximately 90% of the nursing workforce is female

– The number of nurses trained and employed needs to grow by 8% a year to overcome alarming shortfalls in the profession by 2030.

CHILLING FACTS that must change

IDF Diabetes Atlas and WHO shares facts and projections on the global impact of diabetes that are quite discouraging, reminding us why we need to give emphasis to this disease.

– 422 million adults were living with diabetes in 2019. The number of people living with diabetes is expected to rise to 578 million by 2030.

– One in two adults with diabetes remain undiagnosed. The majority have type 2 diabetes.

– One in six live births (20 million) are affected by high blood glucose (hyperglycaemia) in pregnancy.

– Diabetes caused 5.2 million deaths in 2019.

– Diabetes was responsible for at least $760 billion in health expenditure in 2019 – 10% of the global total spent on healthcare.

Awareness and Screening are KEY

Diabetes mellitus is one of the most common diagnoses made by family physicians. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to blindness, limb amputation, kidney failure, and vascular and heart disease. Screening patients before signs and symptoms develop leads to earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Symptoms that should prompt consideration of diabetes include polyuria, polydipsia, fatigue, blurry vision, weight loss, poor wound healing, numbness, and tingling.

Taking care of your diabetes and the conditions that come with it can help you lower your chances of heart and blood vessel disease. Every step you take to keep your ABCS (A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol) in your target range and quitting smoking, will help lower your risk of heart disease or a stroke.

Know your ABCS

A is for A1C.

An HbA1c (glycosylated haemoglobin) test shows what the average amount of glucose attached to haemoglobin has been over the past three months. It’s a three-month average because that’s typically how long a red blood cell lives. Haemoglobin is the part of your red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. It is different from the blood sugar checks you do each day. This test gives you a good idea of how well your diabetes treatment plan is working. Having too high levels of blood sugar over time can harm your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, feet and eyes. Ask your health care physician what your goal should be.

HbA1c results are given in percentages. Typical results are below.

Normal: HbA1c below 5.7%

Prediabetes: HbA1c between 5.7% and 6.4%

Diabetes: HbA1c of 6.5% or higher

B is for blood pressure.

High blood pressure makes your heart work harder than it should and can lead to a heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure, often called the silent killer, won’t go away without treatment and further complicates diabetes control and management.

C is for cholesterol.

Your cholesterol numbers tell you about the amount of fat in your blood. There are different components: HDL cholesterol, help protect your heart; LDL cholesterol, can clog your arteries. High triglycerides raise your risk for a heart attack or a stroke.

Once you know your numbers, you can take steps to lessen your diabetic risks through some common-sense lifestyle changes. “The key is to focus on control of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and weight, to exercise and eat right, and to avoid tobacco. That is good advice for everyone trying to reduce their risk of Diabetes” says Deepak Bhatt, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.