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Urgent WHO calls for greater action to combat diabetes epidemic

WHO would seek to increase awareness about the rise in diabetes, and its staggering burden and consequences, in particular in low-and middle-income countries.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) is calling for greater action to turn the growing tide of the global diabetes epidemic.

WHO is also marking World Diabetes Day by announcing that the Organisation’s annual World Health Day, which recognises its birthday on April 7, would focus on the issue of diabetes.

A statement issued by Paul Garwood, WHO Communications Officer to mark the day said World Health Day would provide an important platform for promoting efforts to prevent diabetes and ensure optimal management of the condition for people living with one of the various forms of disease.

It said multiple actions could be done to reduce the impact of diabetes, through adopting healthy lifestyles, such as partaking in physical activity and healthy diets, to government action on curbing the marketing of unhealthy foods and ensuring health systems provide the required services and care for people living with the disease.

“As the prevalence of diabetes increases, the need to learn how to minimise one’s risk of getting it, and to know how to detect and treat it, are all increasing in importance.

“That is why WHO is promoting efforts to highlight the disease on the next World Health Day, 7 April 2016,” it said.

It noted that through World Health Day 2016, WHO would seek to increase awareness about the rise in diabetes, and its staggering burden and consequences, in particular in low-and middle-income countries and trigger a set of specific, effective and affordable actions to tackle diabetes.

It said these would include steps to prevent diabetes and diagnose, treat and care for people with diabetes; launch the first Global report on diabetes, which would describe the burden and consequences of diabetes and advocate stronger health systems to ensure improved surveillance, enhanced prevention, and more effective management of diabetes.

It said importantly, the world took a major step recently to address the diabetes epidemic by setting a target to reduce by one-third the deaths attributed to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including diabetes, by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The statement said in this regard, WHO helps countries put in place policies to minimise the impact of NCDs, which include diabetes, cancers, and cardiovascular and lung diseases.

It noted that close to 350 million people in the world have diabetes, a chronic disease that occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or when it cannot effectively use the insulin it does produce to help the body metabolize the sugar that is formed from the food we eat.

“Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar, which gives us the energy we need to live.

“Unable to get into the cells to be burned as energy, the sugar can build up to harmful levels in the blood,” it said.

The statement said in 2012, diabetes was the direct cause of some 1.5 million deaths, with more than 80 per cent of them occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

“WHO projects that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death by 2030. There are two main forms of the disease. People with type one diabetes typically make none of their own insulin and therefore require insulin injections for survival,” it said.

It explained that people with type two diabetes, the form that comprises some 90 per cent of all cases, usually produce their own insulin, but not enough or they are unable to use it properly.

“People with type two diabetes are typically overweight and sedentary,” it added.

The statement said: “Over time, high blood sugars can wreak havoc on every major organ system in the body, causing heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, blindness, impotence and infections that can lead to amputations.

“But, properly treated, the impact of diabetes can be minimised. Even people with type one diabetes can live long and healthy lives if they keep their blood sugars under tight control.”

Source: GNA

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