World Health Day 2016: Beat diabetes
EACH year on April 7, the world celebrates World Health Day to mark the anniversary of the founding of World Health organisation (WHO) in 1948.
On this day around the globe, thousands of events mark the importance of health for productive and happy lives.
The theme for World Health Day 2016 will be diabetes, a noncommunicable disease directly impacting millions of people of globally, mostly in low and middle-income countries.
Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterised by elevated levels of blood glucose which may over time lead to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. The prevalence of diabetes has been steadily increasing in the past few decades, in particular in low- and middle-income countries. Knowledge exists to reverse this trend through targeted prevention and appropriate care.
Not just a health issue
Diabetes, the main forms of which are type 1 and type 2 diabetes is not just a health issue.
Diabetes and its complications bring about substantial economic loss to people with diabetes and their families and to health systems and national economies through direct medical costs and loss of work and wages.
Working to prevent, detect and treat diabetes is also critical to development. Within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, governments have set an ambitious target to reduce premature mortality from NCDs including diabetes — by one third; achieve universal health coverage; and provide access to affordable essential medicines — all by 2030.
Diabetes is one of four priority NCDs targeted by world leaders in the 2011 Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of NCDs and the SDGs 2016-2030. The Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013-2020 provides a roadmap and menu of policy options to attain nine voluntary global targets, including an additional target to halt the rise in diabetes and obesity by 2025.
Diabetes matters to many
Diabetes, therefore, is an issue relevant to people around the world, as well as multiple stakeholders, including government, civil society, the private sector, and intergovernmental agencies.
While every country and community is at a different stage in addressing its diabetes challenge, there are a number of activities that could be considered at national and local level on World Health Day 2016 to help achieve its objectives to increase awareness and trigger a set of actions to tackle diabetes.
In 2008, an estimated 347 million people in the world had diabetes and the prevalence is growing, particularly in low and middle-income countries.
In 2012, the disease was the direct cause of some 1,5 million deaths, with more than 80 percent of those occurring in low- and middle-income countries. WHO projects that diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death by 2030.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar, gives us the energy that we need to live. If it cannot get into the cells to be burned as energy, sugar builds up to harmful levels in the blood.
There are two main forms of the diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes typically make none of their own insulin and therefore require insulin injections to survive. People with type 2 diabetes, the form that comprises some 90 percent of 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, two conditions that raise a person’s insulin needs.
Over time, high blood sugar can seriously compromise every major organ system in the body, causing heart attacks, strokes, nerve damage, kidney failure, blindness, impotence and infections that can lead to amputations.
World Health Day 2016: Key messages
WHO is focusing the next World Health Day, on April 7, 2016, on diabetes :
1. The diabetes epidemic is rapidly increasing in many countries, with the documented increase most dramatic in low and middle-income countries.
2. A large proportion of diabetes cases are preventable. Simple lifestyle measures have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. Maintaining normal body weight, engaging in regular physical activity, and eating a healthy diet can reduce the risk of diabetes.
3. Diabetes is treatable. Diabetes can be controlled and managed to prevent complications. Increasing access to diagnosis, self-management education and affordable treatment are vital components of the response.
4. Efforts to prevent and treat diabetes will be important to achieve the global Sustainable Development Goal 3 target of reducing premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by one-third by 2030.
Many sectors of society have a role to play, including governments, employers, educators, manufacturers, civil society, private sector, the media and individuals themselves.
Goal of World Health Day 2016: Scale up prevention, strengthen care, and enhance surveillance
The main goals of the World Health Day 2016 campaign will be 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; and
• 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.
The burden of diabetes is increasing globally, particularly in developing countries.
The causes are a complex, but the increase is in large part due to rapid increases in overweight, including obesity and physical inactivity. Co-ordinated international and national policies are needed to reduce exposure to the known risk factors for diabetes and to improve access to and quality of care.
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