World Health Day: Halt the Rise, Beat Diabetes

By Noha Zeitoun, Content Intern, PSI

Today, April 7th, marks World Health Day, a day celebrating the establishment of the World Health Organization in 1948. This year’s theme issues a call for action on diabetes, with the WHO’s first Global Report on Diabetes highlighting the global need to focus on prevention and treatment of the disease.

Since 1980, the number of adults living with diabetes has almost quadrupled to 422 billion adults. Today, diabetes is one of the leading causes of death globally, with the majority of deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. However, with increased prevention, early diagnosis and invention people with diabetes can live long and health lives with well-managed care.

There are two major forms of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2, but a third type, gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy also exists. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented through nutrition, physical activity and avoiding tobacco use.

7 Quick Facts from the global report on diabetes:

  1. The number of people living with diabetes and its prevalence are growing in all regions of the world. In 2014, 422 million adults (or 8.5% of the population) had diabetes, compared with 108 million (4.7%) in 1980.
  2. The epidemic of diabetes has major health and socioeconomic impacts, especially in developing countries.
  3. In 2014, more than 1 in 3 adults aged over 18 years were overweight and more than one in 10 were obese.
  4. The complications of diabetes can lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation. For example, rates of lower limb amputation are 10 to 20 times higher for people with diabetes.
  5. Diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths in 2012. Higher-than-optimal blood glucose caused an additional 2.2 million deaths by increasing the risks of cardiovascular and other diseases.
  6. Many of these deaths (43%) occur prematurely, before the age of 70 years, and are largely preventable through adoption of policies to create supportive environments for healthy lifestyles and better detection and treatment of the disease.
  7. Good management includes use of a small set of generic medicines; interventions to promote healthy lifestyles; patient education to facilitate self-care; and regular screening for early detection and treatment of complications.

Think you’ve learned all you need to about diabetes? Take the WHO’s quiz to find out.