On the occasion of World Diabetes Day, the World Health Organization has called for increased access to quality diabetes education for healthcare workers and people living with diabetes as part of efforts to achieve universal access to quality, affordable diabetes care.
According to the WHO, approximately 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, and diabetes is directly responsible for 1.5 million deaths each year. “Diabetes is estimated to affect more than 96 million people in the WHO South-East Asia Region, with another 96 million being pre-diabetic, resulting in at least 600,000 deaths each year. Diabetes prevalence in the Region is expected to rise by 68% by 2045 unless urgent action is taken “According to a WHO statement.
Diabetes, according to the statement, can cause serious and life-threatening damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves if detected late or improperly managed. The WHO also established methods for lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes.
“Regular and adequate physical activity, healthy eating, and abstaining from tobacco and harmful alcohol use can all reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, if it develops, can be managed with medication, blood pressure and lipid control, and adherence to a healthy lifestyle. Type 1 diabetes, which affects over 250 000 children and adolescents in the Region, is currently incurable but manageable. Access to affordable treatment, including insulin, is critical for people living with both types of diabetes “It stated. According to the statement, the region is continuing to take targeted action to combat diabetes in accordance with its Flagship Priorities of preventing and controlling noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and achieving universal health coverage (UHC), as well as its recently adopted Implementation Roadmap on NCD prevention and control 2022-2030.
“Almost all countries now have standardised diabetes treatment guidelines in place, and the majority provide at least one hypoglycemic drug at the primary health care (PHC) level. The WHO HEARTS-D technical package is assisting PHC personnel across the Region in diagnosing, treating, and managing diabetes, thereby accelerating Region-wide efforts to reorient health systems – including NCD care – to the PHC level “It stated. In 2021, as part of the COVID-19 response, WHO supported the delivery of insulin donations to Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Timor-Leste, as well as 45 other low- and middle-income countries worldwide.
“The Region is on track to achieve a 30% relative reduction in tobacco use prevalence between 2010 and 2025, and last year it launched a Regional Roadmap for implementing the Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030. The Roadmap will assist Member States in achieving a 15% relative reduction in the prevalence of insufficient physical activity by 2030, thereby assisting them in reducing expected increases in new diabetes cases “It stated. According to the WHO, action is needed in several key areas, including the establishment of time-bound targets to address gaps in service coverage.
“First, policymakers should establish time-bound targets to close service coverage gaps, with an emphasis on equity and leaving no one behind. Second, high-impact, cost-effective, and context-appropriate interventions must be identified and implemented indefinitely. The Global Diabetes Compact, which was launched in April 2021, calls for targeted efforts to improve community empowerment and increase private sector engagement in this regard “It stated. “Third, policymakers should continue to strengthen PHC service delivery by ensuring that diabetes screening and care are available, accessible, acceptable, and of adequate quality, without discrimination,” the statement said.
It went on to say that countries must keep promoting access to essential medicines and priority devices, such as insulin, in national benefit packages, which is a key focus of the Region’s Flagship Priority on UHC.