November 20, 2013

Today's World with Diabetes

As in the United States, diabetes education is lacking around the world. Who is responsible for the lack of diabetes education? The medical professionals in all countries of course, because they treat all diabetes as a progressive and a lifestyle disease. They have the feeling of why waste the resources on people that cannot manage their diabetes.

With American and World Diabetes Month upon us, all people with diabetes need to be pushing for diabetes education. Without education, the world diabetes epidemic will continue and the numbers will grow. In addition, the costs will continue to rise and eventually become uneconomical for most governments. Diabetes education could go a long way to stem the diabetes epidemic. If done properly, patients would know that diabetes does not have to be progressive and could be held in check for a few years or for decades. The cost of education could reduce overall costs and be beneficial for patients and governments.

Yet, without the medical communities being on board, the education will not happen, diabetes will continue to grow in numbers, and continue to be progressive for those that will not self-educate themselves about diabetes. Yes, doctors, you need to support education about diabetes. In addition, doctors will need to screen more patients for diabetes, especially since about half of the people presently with diabetes do not even know they have diabetes. This also applies to the millions that have impaired pancreases and are progressing to diabetes, because doctors will not warn these people and give them the education to make proper food plans and exercise.

Some statistics that should make doctors want to educate patients include:
#1. Over the next 20 years, the number of people with diabetes in Africa will almost double. This region has the highest mortality rate due to diabetes.
#2. 21.2 million people in Europe don’t know that they have diabetes.
#3. 6 of the top 10 countries for diabetes prevalence are Pacific Islands.
#4. China has 114 million people living with diabetes. India follows up in second with 63.0 million, and the U.S takes third with 24.1 million.
#5. More people in the United States die each year from diabetes than AIDS and breast cancer combined.
#6. In 2012, 4.8 million people died due to diabetes.
#7. 471 billion U.S. dollars were spent on healthcare for diabetes in 2012 alone.
#8. WHO projects that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death in 2030.

One of the main issues involving diabetes is the lack of attention and funding we have seen from governments. Considering the number of people affected and its cost impact, diabetes prevention and research does not receive nearly as much support as diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS. For people with diabetes to be able to take the important action of monitoring their blood sugar regularly, we need to make it financially feasible for them to purchase the supplies they need, and we need to teach them and their care team why and how they need to do this monitoring. This is a statement by William Hsu, M.D, Senior Director of Joslin Health Solutions International. Bold is my emphasis.

Dr. Hsu continued, “Getting governments involved is just one of the issues faced in this growing epidemic. Nearly half of people with diabetes are undiagnosed, this makes it an impossible problem to solve when people don’t know there in an issue in the first place. Diabetes awareness –including prevention, diagnosis and treatment– must start at the community level. We must reach out across spheres of influence to help take the stigma out of diabetes, to help people realize that it is better to know about, and then take control of their diabetes, rather than to ignore it. We also need to take the long view, building to the future. Training medical students and junior doctors and nurses from other countries in diabetes knowledge and skills in listening to and engaging patients will ensure that we can affect the next generation and beyond.”

WHO (World Health Organization) is another organization that is dedicated to preventing and minimizing the complications of diabetes globally. Through their Diabetes Programme, WHO “oversees the development and adoption of internally agreed standards and norms for the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes, its complications and risk factors.” It promotes and contributes to the surveillance of diabetes as well as advocates for the prevention and control of diabetes in vulnerable populations.

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is dedicated to engaging in action to tackle diabetes from the local to global level. At IDF, the main focus is worldwide awareness and advocacy. Aiming to increase public awareness and encourage health improvement, IDF promotes the exchange of high-quality information about diseases and provides education for people with diabetes and their healthcare providers.” This is from their website.

Why can't the other organizations have similar goals? At present, all the doctors seem to want to accomplish is let diabetes continue without education and testing supplies, to be able to treat the complications of diabetes. The shame of this will be on them.

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