Each year, the World Health Organisation champions World Health Day, focusing their events on raising awareness of a global health issue in a bid to tackle it. This year, for the event on 7th April, they have chosen diabetes as the target of the campaign, to help address the growing numbers of those suffering from the condition across the world. The number of people suffering from diabetes reached 347 million people in 2008, which is why it’s become so important to raise awareness and tackle the causes of this devastating condition.
The theme for this year’s World Health Day is ‘Beat Diabetes’, and it is hoped that through spreading awareness, more can be done to tackle the chronic condition which is spreading rapidly – particularly across low and middle income countries. As a large number of cases of diabetes are preventable, measures such as addressing obesity and ensuring a healthy lifestyle can all contribute to reducing the number of people who will develop this condition.
Diabetes in the UK
In the UK there are over 3.9 million people suffering from diabetes, and this number looks set to continue to increase to 5 million by 2025. There are two types of diabetes:
- -Type 1 diabetes attacks the cells which produce insulin in the body, damaging the internal organs. It typically presents itself before the age of 40, often in teenagers, and is managed through insulin injections and maintaining a healthy weight and diet which will be needed for life.
- -Type 2 diabetes relates to an insulin resistance as the result of the body not producing enough insulin, or where the body’s cells stop reacting to insulin. For Type 2 sufferers, maintaining a healthy diet and glucose levels can help to manage it, but as a progressive condition, medication may be needed to help control it and reduce the possibility of developing other conditions as a result of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is far more common than Type 1, and accounts for around 90% of adult cases. As the causes of Type 2 diabetes are largely associated with obesity, it can be prevented by ensuring that you maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI). There are also many others who are considered in the pre-diabetes stage, which is a condition where individuals have high blood sugar levels, but those which are not quite high enough to be considered as having full diabetes. If left undiagnosed and untreated, diabetes can continue to get worse, leading to complications which can have serious or even fatal consequences.
Symptoms of diabetes
Common indicators of diabetes include:
- Feeling thirsty
- A frequent need to urinate, particularly at night
- Feeling tired
- Weight loss and muscle mass loss
- Repeated episodes of thrush, and itching around the vagina or penis
- Blurred vision
- Cuts which take longer to heal than usual
If you start to notice the prevalence of these symptoms, you should speak to your GP who can diagnose you with diabetes or establish whether your symptoms have another cause.
The aims of World Health Day
This year’s World Health Day has three major objectives:
- To increase awareness about the growing cases of diabetes, and its effect on healthcare globally
- To 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.
- To 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.
To help spread awareness of the campaign, you can post about it on social media using the hashtag #WorldHealthDay as well as organise events at your school, workplace, university etc to help raise awareness of diabetes. You can also take steps to prevent diabetes in your own life by ensuring that you maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep your weight within the healthy BMI range.
As well as World Health Day, organisation such as Diabetes UK have ongoing campaigns to raise money to tackle diabetes, as well as provide more information and support for sufferers. By doing your bit for World Health Day, you can help to spread awareness and help tackle this devastating, preventable condition.