14th November sees the world mark the annual World Diabetes Day. This health awareness day was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to address the growing global health threat of diabetes. World Diabetes Day also became an official United Nations Day in 2006, increasing awareness and reach.
World Diabetes Day takes place on the same date each year. 14th November was chosen as it was the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, one of three people who discovered insulin.
According to the IDF, World Diabetes Day is the world's most extensive diabetes awareness campaign, with an audience of over one billion citizens across more than 160 countries.
Why is diabetes awareness so crucial?
The IDF says that 10% of adults worldwide are living with diabetes. WHO data shows this number has grown from 4.7% in 1980, and 8.5% in 2014.
At the same time, Statista puts the number of people with diabetes worldwide at 463 million, projecting that number to grow to 629 million by 2045. Meanwhile, the estimated global healthcare costs to treat diabetes and associated complications are over $760 billion!
One notable feature of global diabetes prevalence is that most people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. This is perhaps the most crucial element of diabetes awareness and prevention, as type 2 diabetes is mostly preventable if we:
- Follow a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Avoid tobacco products
- Undertake regular physical activity
An even starker statistic comes from diabetes.co.uk, which suggests that as many as 46% of people with diabetes may be undiagnosed. As the symptoms of diabetes are often less apparent in people with Type 2 diabetes, we can safely assume most of this number is such patients.
With diabetes known to be a significant contributor to blindness, kidney diseases, heart disease, and stroke, hundreds of millions of people are potentially unaware they're at increased risk. Many people who receive a diabetes diagnosis have often lived with the condition for years without realising it and are already dealing with complications and other associated health problems.
According to the WHO:
- Premature mortality from diabetes grew 5% between 2000 and 2016
- 6 million worldwide deaths in 2016 were a direct result of diabetes
While it's clear that diabetes is a significant global health issue, the fact that most cases are type 2 diabetes means dealing with it is achievable. Studies have shown, for example, that it is possible to reduce the symptoms and even reverse diabetes entirely by losing weight and adopting healthier nutrition habits.
What are the aims of World Diabetes Day?
Like other world health days, including World Mental Health Day and World Patient Safety Day, World Diabetes Day combines "big picture" objectives with a specific focus every year.
The overall aims of World Diabetes Day are to:
- Draw attention to diabetes and associated issues across the world.
- Ensure diabetes prevention, care, and treatment remains prominent in political and public thinking.
- Provide a platform to promote the IDF's ongoing global activities.
- Promote the importance of coordinated and concerted actions around dealing with diabetes collectively as a critical global health issue.
What is the theme of World Diabetes Day 2022?
From 2021 to 2023, World Diabetes Day is focusing on "Access to Diabetes Care."
One of the most significant factors in diabetes care is the lack of awareness among patients that they may have diabetes. Lack of awareness can lead to medical emergencies, putting strain on peoples’ health and healthcare systems. Similarly, people may face complications if being treated for other conditions if they’re unaware of their diabetes.
A key message from the IDF is that healthcare professionals must know how to detect and diagnose diabetes as early as possible. And, post-diagnosis, can maximise the time they have to provide the best possible advice and care.
The IDF also notes that in more than 95% of cases, people living with diabetes look after and manage their condition themselves. People in this situation must have access to ongoing education and resources to understand their condition and what they can do to stay healthy and avoid complications.
How has World Diabetes Day evolved in recent years?
In 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, World Diabetes Day put a focus on the role of nurses in diagnosing and managing diabetes, specifically:
- The role of nurses in early identification and diagnosis of diabetes, sometimes recognising symptoms while treating patients for other conditions.
- How nurses are often responsible for providing self-management techniques and psychological support to diabetes patients, both of which play a vital role in preventing complications.
- How nurses can help identify risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes in their patients and help them take steps to prevent them from developing diabetes.
Both the IDF and the WHO have also previously highlighted:
- A global shortfall of 5.9 million nurses, with 89% of this number in low- and middle-income countries.
- The need for nurses to be more comprehensively trained to deliver better outcomes to diabetes patients.
The WHO says that the global nursing workforce, currently consisting of 27.9 million nurses, needs to grow 8% a year throughout the 2020s to avoid dangerous global shortfalls by 2030. To achieve this figure, the WHO wants a global investment of $3.9 trillion over the next decade, of which 40% should be dedicated to nurses’ salaries.
How can you get involved in World Diabetes Day 2022?
While World Diabetes Day is a global event, diabetes awareness organisations, charities, and healthcare providers in different countries typically organise their own local events.
While the IDF website has suggestions for getting involved in World Diabetes Day 2022, whether from an individual or an employer’s perspective, it’s also worth looking up what’s happening in your location.