Issue: November 2016
Section: Diabetes views
Welcome to the World Diabetes Day 2016 issue
World Diabetes Day (WDD) was first introduced as a day to raise awareness of diabetes and related complications in 1991. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization developed the initiative in reaction to the rise in cases of diabetes worldwide. November 14th was chosen as WDD because it is the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, a medical scientist who co-discovered insulin and used the discovery to successfully treat a 14-year old boy with type 1 diabetes. In 1923, Frederick Banting and John James Rickard Macleod received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery which forever changed the fate of millions of lives worldwide by increasing their chances for survival.
WDD became an official United Nations Day on December 20, 2006 with the passage of United Nation Resolution 61/225. The occasion aimed to raise awareness of diabetes, its prevention and the care that people with the condition need to avoid devastating complications. Governments, non-governmental organizations and private businesses are encouraged to increase awareness of the disease, particularly among the general population and the media.
WDD is led by thousands of volunteers and professionals dedicated to improving the lives of people living with or at risk of diabetes. The IDF develops the WDD campaign each year and awareness is disseminated with campaign support and facilitation by IDF member associations worldwide, including the American Diabetes Association, Diabetes UK, Diabetes Australia, the Canadian Diabetes Association, Diabetes South Africa, Diabetes New Zealand and the Diabetic Association of India. These organizations arrange events at international, national and local levels. Typically, annual events leading up to and on the day of November 14th include:
- Conferences, workshops and seminars for health and public policy professionals.
- The distribution of information to encourage at risk individuals to be screened for diabetes.
- Events to highlight diabetes in local and national media, including television, newspapers and Internet publications
- WDD races to increase awareness of diabetes.
Civil leaders around the world issue proclamations on WDD to raise awareness of diabetes in their communities. Many events aim to raise money for research into improved treatments for type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and ultimately a cure for type 1 diabetes.
The theme of World Diabetes Day regularly changes. For example, the WDD theme between 2009 and 2013 was focused on diabetes education and prevention. Other past WDD campaign themes have included human rights, healthy eating, obesity, the disadvantaged and vulnerable, and children/teenagers with or at risk for diabetes. These campaign themes are integrated into massive public events such as press events to discuss the increase in diabetes prevalence, sporting events, breakfasts, leaflet/poster campaigning, and lighting ceremonies. “Going blue” marks WDD with millions of advocates proudly wearing blue hats, t-shirts and even painted faces with the blue circle. Landmark buildings and monuments around the world are lit up in blue to help spread awareness of the day.
In 2014-15, 'Healthy Living and Diabetes' was the theme of WDD. Diabetes education and prevention is critical to help the public understand diabetes warning signs and the risks associated with diabetes. Once a person is diagnosed with diabetes it is critical that they are empowered to self-manage, and have access to care for best management practices and treatment.
In this way, World Diabetes Day also aims to change education worldwide so it provides the information people need in order to live with the condition and treat it carefully. The theme for 2016 'Eyes on Diabetes' focuses on the importance of early screening for diabetes. One in two people with diabetes remain undiagnosed, which makes them particularly susceptible to the complications of the condition, causing substantial disability and premature death. The ‘Eyes on Diabetes’ campaign speaks directly to the risk of eye disease leading to blindness. Of the 415 million adults worldwide living with diabetes in 2015, over one third will develop some form of diabetic retinopathy – a complication of diabetes that can lead to vision impairment and blindness. In addition, more than 93 million adults, or one in three, currently living with diabetes have diabetic retinopathy. Early detection and timely treatment of diabetic retinopathy can prevent vision loss and reduce the impact of diabetes on individuals, their carers and society.
This November the IDF hopes to achieve 1 million individual screenings by participating in the Test2Prevent initiative. The year's activities and materials will focus on promoting the importance of screening to ensure early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and treatment to reduce the risk of serious complications. Many people who live with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes are not aware of their condition and are at a much greater risk of complications.
By the time of diagnosis, diabetes complications may already be present so early screening is very important. The World Diabetes Day campaign ‘Eyes on Diabetes’ also stresses that screening for all diabetes-related complications is an essential part of managing all types of diabetes for healthier, more productive and longer lives.