World Diabetes Day

By Constance Ndeleko

In 2007, the General Assembly adopted resolution 61/225 designating 14 November as World Diabetes Day. The document recognized “the urgent need to pursue multilateral efforts to promote and improve human health, and provide access to treatment and health-care education.”

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 is a hormone that regulates blood sugar.

This years theme focuses on promotion of nurses in diabetes prevention and management as they account for over half of the global health workforce.

Nurses currently account for over half of the global health workforce. They do outstanding work to support people living with a wide range of health concerns. People who either live with diabetes or are at risk of developing the condition need their support too.

People living with diabetes face a number of challenges, and education is vital to equip nurses with the skills to support them.

As the number of people with diabetes continues to rise across the world, the role of nurses and other health professional support staff becomes increasingly important in managing the impact of the condition.

One of the most serious consequences of undiagnosed type 1 diabetes is DKA. If a child does not receive treatment for type 1 diabetes, they may develop DKA. Type 2 diabetes can also lead to DKA, but this is rare. DKA is a severe and life threatening condition that requires immediate treatment. If insulin levels are very low, the body cannot use glucose for energy. Instead, it begins to break down fat for energy. This leads to the production of chemicals called ketones, which can be toxic at high levels. A buildup of these chemicals causes DKA, wherein the body becomes acidic.Early diagnosis and effective management of diabetes can prevent DKA, but this is not always possible. DKA is more common among children with an incorrect, and therefore delayed, diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.


Diabetes prevalence has been rising more rapidly in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries.

An estimated 478,000 Kenyans are living with diabetes 60% of whom are unaware while It is estimated that the number of children living with diabetes is increasing at a rate of 3.5 % annually.

WHO estimates that 26% of bed occupancy in hospitals in Kenya consists of diabetic patients while 50 % of kidney patients are found to be suffering from diabetes.

According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), WDD is the largest diabetes awareness campaign reaching an audience of over 1billion people in over 160 countries.

Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation. In 2016, an estimated 1.6 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes. Another 2.2 million deaths were attributable to high blood glucose in 2012. 1 in 6 live births (20 million) are affected by high blood glucose (hyperglycaemia) in pregnancy.

There are three main types of diabetes – type 1, type 2 and gestational.

Type 1 diabetes: Often occurs in children and adolescents and happens when your body produces little or no insulin. You will need daily insulin injections to maintain glucose levels under control.

Type 2 diabetes: More common in adults and accounts for around 90% of all diabetes cases. When you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make good use of the insulin that it produces.

Gestational diabetes (GDM): A type of diabetes that consists of high blood glucose during pregnancy and is associated with complications to both mother and child. GDM usually disappears after pregnancy but women affected and their children are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

WHO aims to stimulate and support the adoption of effective measures for the surveillance, prevention and control of diabetes and its complications, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

Diabetes rates in childhood and adolescence are rising. Type 1 diabetes is much more common in young people than type 2 diabetes, but the rates of both are increasing.

In most cases, people can manage the symptoms of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes with a healthful diet, regular exercise, and medications. When they control the condition well, people with diabetes can live full and healthy lives.

Diabetes can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with diet, physical activity, medication and regular screening and treatment for complications.

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