World Diabetes Day

World Diabetes Day

The long-term health condition diabetes is caused when blood sugar levels get too high. There are two categories of the diseases. With Type 1, the body doesn’t produce any insulin at all. Type 2 is more common, and occurs when the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the cells don’t react to this hormone as they should do.

Worldwide, in 2010 an estimated 285 million people had the disease. In the US, rates have been rising significantly over the last two decades – in 2010, 26 million Americans had the condition, 57 million were living with pre-diabetes, and 7 million were  thought to be diabetic without realizing it. The condition costs America $132bn each year, and its rapid escalation has led to its being described as an epidemic.

World Diabetes Day is the main international campaign for the disease, and has been held every year on November 14 since 1991 to involve millions of people across the world in advocacy and awareness. The campaign highlights those issues of greatest importance to the diabetes community, and aims to ensure they remain center stage.

That is the day Frederick Banting was born. With Charles Best, Banting first came up with the concept which led, in 1922, to insulin being discovered.

The annual event is organised by the World Health Organization and the International Diabetes Federation in response to the rapidly rising number of diabetics worldwide. It became an officially recognised United Nations day in 2007, following the passing of a special resolution.

That same year,  a logo was designed for World Diabetes Day. It is the international symbol for the disease, a blue circle. The circle is a symbol of health and life in many cultures, so the message is intended to be very positive and unifying. The color blue is the shade of the UN flag, and symbolizes the sky that links all countries.

Each year, a different campaign for the day is chosen, addressing a particular issue faced by the diabetes community, which then lasts for all of the following year. Past themes have included adolescent and childhood diabetes, foot care, obesity, human rights, the condition as it affects more vulnerable people, lifestyle and “talking about diabetes”.

For the period 2009-2013, the chosen topic is diabetes and education. For the 2012 campaign, the slogan is Diabetes: Protect our Future.

The International Diabetes Federation has more than 200 member associations in over 160 nations and territories, including all UN member states, organizations, diabetic individuals, their families and health professionals.

The day itself is marked by a wide range of activities, and by many different groups and organizations, from health departments to NGOs and businesses.

Events include extensive media coverage, events for kids, sporting occasions, workshops, exhibitions and leaflet and poster campaigns. In many places there are also free screenings for the condition and its complications.

In 2012, the role of education will be highlighted, for health professionals as well as diabetics and those who are most at risk in lessening the impact of diabetes across the world.