WHO calls for global action on diabetes

By Samual Okocha, Lagos

Nigeria: Adeniran, 54 years old, receives regular care at a medical center in Lekki, Lagos. Adeniran is the chairman of the Diabetes Mellitus Association of the General Hospital, Gbagada. He has type 2 diabetes and had his right foot amputated. He wears a prosthesis. He is fully compliant with his medication and tries to maintain a more healthy lifestyle. Photo credit: WHO/Andrew Esiebo

The newly released figures from the World Health Organization-WHO have shown that the prevalence of diabetes has grown increasingly, nearly quadrupling from 108 million to 422 million adults since 1980.

WHO is calling for global action to stop the rise as it marks the annual World Health Day with the theme “Beat Diabetes.”

In its first “Global report on diabetes”, the global health body identified overweight and obesity as the strongest risk factors driving the dramatic rise in the incidents of diabetes.

The report highlights the need to step up prevention and treatment of the disease.

WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan said; “If we are to make any headway in halting the rise in diabetes, we need to rethink our daily lives: to eat healthily, be physically active and avoid excessive weight gain. Even in the poorest settings, governments must ensure that people are able to make these healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose and treat people with diabetes.”

Diabetes is a chronic, progressive Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose (blood sugar).

It occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough of the insulin hormone, which regulates blood sugar, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.

Understanding Diabetes
According to WHO there are three main forms of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.

The cause of type 1 diabetes remains unknown and people living with it require daily insulin administration for survival.

Type 2 accounts for the vast majority of people living with diabetes globally and is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity. Once seen only in adults, WHO warns type 2 diabetes is now increasingly occurring in children and young people.

Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition that occurs in pregnancy and carries long-term risk of type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes is present when blood glucose values are above normal but still below those diagnostic of diabetes.