Events being held in over 160 countries to mark the day and highlight the need for action to stop the diabetes epidemic
Starting today, people from all corners of the world are uniting together for three days of celebration to put diabetes firmly in the public spotlight. World Diabetes Day is the best opportunity there is to draw attention to the silent killer that is diabetes.
Celebrated every year on 14 November, World Diabetes Day was initiated in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat that diabetes poses to the global community. An official United Nations Day since the passage of UN Resolution 61/225 in 2006, World Diabetes Day draws attention to issues of paramount importance to the diabetes world and keeps diabetes firmly in the public spotlight. It is represented by the blue circle – the global symbol of diabetes.
Diabetes is a leading threat to global health and development. According to IDF, over 300 million people live with diabetes around the world. Within a generation, that number is expected to reach half a billion. 8.5% of European adults have diabetes. Shockingly, six countries in the Middle East and North African Region have the top 10 highest diabetes prevalence rates in the world —Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. An ageing society coupled with economic development and lifestyle changes has resulted in a dramatic increase in diabetes in the Region.
“Diabetes is the cause of some 290,000 deaths in our Region. It is our collective responsibility to safeguard the health of future generations. World Diabetes Day highlights the serious issue of diabetes on a global stage and brings urgent attention to the epidemic,” said Amir-Kamran Nikousokhan Tayar, Chair of IDF’s Middle East and North African Region.
Faced with these alarming numbers, World Diabetes Day aims to establish access to diabetes education as a right for all people with diabetes, to promote greater awareness of the risk factors and warning signs of diabetes, and encourage best-practice sharing in diabetes prevention.
This year sees the second of a five-year campaign (2009-2013) that addresses the growing need for diabetes education and prevention programmes throughout the world. The theme for World Diabetes Day 2010 is “Let’s take control of diabetes. Now.” In keeping with this theme, IDF has developed a special web application – the Blue Circle Test—to showcase the risk factors for type 2 diabetes and highlight the positive actions that individuals can take to help prevent the disease.
The world is finally waking up to the threat of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs). On May 13 this year, the UN General Assembly voted unanimously for UN Resolution 64/265 to hold a UN High Level Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in September 2011. A similar Summit on HIV/AIDS in 2001 proved a turning point for the fight against that disease.
“The UN Summit will bring heads of state, government representatives, NGOs and public health experts together to discuss the global threat and commit to the global response required for diabetes and other NCDs,” Ann Keeling, IDF Chief Executive Officer, said.
To mark World Diabetes Day this year, IDF is coordinating a programme of work – called the Diabetes Roadmap – that will produce and package arguments, evidence and solutions to ensure the UN Summit translates into real change for the millions of people with diabetes worldwide.
A Call to Action on Diabetes will be launched on November 14 in the diabetes epicentre of the world: China. China has 92.4 million adults with diabetes (1 in every 10 adults). A Call to Action is the central advocacy tool for the global diabetes community in the lead up to the UN Summit, bringing the global diabetes epidemic to the attention of world leaders, and guide and secure action, commitment, support and resources for diabetes. The document will be unveiled as part of World Diabetes Day festivities at the iconic Great Hall of the People in Beijing. New data on how much diabetes is costing the Chinese economy and society will also be announced.
Celebrations will extend from China to various countries in the world, with famous landmarks and monuments once again lighting up in blue for diabetes awareness. More than 500 iconic buildings in over 60 countries will be illuminated, including Table Mountain in South Africa, Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, the Brandenburger Tor in Germany, and Niagara Falls in Canada. Activities such as mass walks for diabetes and aerobics will be held in conjunction with these lightings, to demonstrate the importance of a healthy lifestyle to help take control of this epidemic.
“Our global diabetes champions will literally bring diabetes to light on World Diabetes Day. No matter where we are, it’s our efforts that will make World Diabetes Day a truly global success. Ninety years after the discovery of insulin, the number of people with diabetes continues to grow at a staggering rate. In every country and in every community worldwide, we are losing the battle against this cruel and deadly disease,” said IDF President Jean Claude Mbanya.
“The time to act for diabetes is now.”