UN has urged countries around the world to strengthen the health system as the number of people with diabetes surges while many are at “increased risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19”.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres made the call on Saturday in his message to commemorate the World Diabetes Day, globally celebrated on Nov. 14.
“Many efforts have been made to prevent and treat it”, but the disease continues to rise rapidly in low and middle-income countries, those “least well-equipped with the diagnostics, medicines, and knowledge to provide life-saving treatment”.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces.
The UN Chief quoting the World Health Organisation (WHO) latest figures said some 422 million adults were living with diabetes compared to around 108 million in 1980 – rising from 4.7 to 8.5 per cent in the adult population.
“This reflects an increase in associated risk factors, such as being overweight or obese.
“Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and lower limb amputation.
“COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional pain to those requiring regular care and treatment who struggle to access therapies for their condition.
“A healthy diet, physical activity and not smoking can prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes, formerly called non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset,’’ he said.
However, he said the disease could be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with medication, regular screening and treatment for complications.
“Next year, WHO is launching the Global Diabetes Compact, “a new initiative that will bring structure and coherence to our complementary efforts to reduce the burden.
“Let us work together to make sure that, through this ambitious and much-needed collaboration, we will soon be talking about the decline as a public health problem,” Guterres said.
The theme for World Diabetes Day 2020 is “The Nurse and Diabetes”, is aimed at raising awareness around the crucial role of these health care professionals in supporting people living with diabetes.
According to him, Nurses, who currently account for over half of the global health workforce, also help people living with a wide range of health concerns.
“People living with it face a number of challenges, and education is vital to equip nurses with the skills to support them.
“As we strive to overcome the pandemic, let us do our utmost to ensure Universal Health Coverage, strengthen health systems and advance good health and resilience for all.’’