On the 14th of November every year, the world pauses to observe World Diabetes Day by creating awareness and promoting advocacy in order to take action in confronting the medical condition. The first event was held in 1991 and launched by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Till date, the day is commemorated in almost all countries in the world and mainly spearheaded by individuals, families, communities, organizations and governments. Sir Frederick Banting co-discovered insulin in 1922. His birthday falls on 14th November, hence the choice of date for the annual observance.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) diabetes is “a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose (or blood sugar), which leads over time to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves. The most common is type 2 diabetes, usually in adults, which occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t make enough insulin”.
Some common symptoms of diabetes include extreme fatigue, frequent urination, feeling very thirsty and hungry, blurry vision, weight loss, wounds that are slow to heal and numbness or itchy sensations in the hands and feet.
About 422 million people globally are living with diabetes according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), with majority living in low- and middle-income countries. As included in the WHO statistics, 1.6 million people die of diabetes each year with the numbers rising over time.
The theme for World Diabetes Day 2020 is “The Nurse and Diabetes”. This year has highlighted the role nurses play in the well-being of society; being Frontliners in the fight against the COVID-19 global pandemic. Nurses play a critical role in helping people living with diabetes and those at the risk of developing the condition by providing care, education and various forms of support. Their impact can make a huge difference in the recovery or prevention process of people living with the condition and those at risk of doing so.
In appreciating the role that Nurses play in managing the impact of diabetes, systems and institutions both locally and internationally have to ensure that they are always equipped with the right skills, healthcare tools and know-how to enable them contribute effectively in their line of duty. Awareness must duly be created on this.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) further goes on to state that “Nurses accounts for 59% of health professionals. The global nursing workforce is 27.9 million, of which 19.3 million are professional nurses. The global shortage of nurses in 2018 was 5.9 million. 89% of that shortage is concentrated in low- and middle-income countries. The number of nurses trained and employed needs to grow by 8% a year to overcome alarming shortfalls in the profession by 2030.”
Activities planned to commemorate this years World Diabetes Day include media campaigns, diabetes screening programmes, sporting activities and many more. The official campaign is represented by a blue circle logo which was adopted in 2007 and is a symbol of global unity in the fight against diabetes.
Diabetes can be prevented or properly managed by frequent physical exercise, weight loss, healthy nutrition habits, quitting smoking, and drinking water instead of beverages. With the right diagnosis, diabetes can be treated by a qualified medical professional.
By: Theresa R. Fianko
Additional Information Source: World Health Organisation (WHO) / International Diabetes Federation (IDF)
Image Credit: International Diabetes Federation (IDF)