By Faranak Bakhtiari

Diabetes prevention on closer consideration amid COVID-19

November 15, 2020 - 17:43

TEHRAN – As long as people with diabetes are at higher risk of serious complications associated with COVID-19, diabetes prevention must come to a closer consideration than ever.

In 2007, UN General Assembly designated November 14 as World Diabetes Day emphasizing “the urgent need to pursue multilateral efforts to promote and improve human health, and provide access to treatment and health-care education.”

The theme for World Diabetes Day 2020 is Nurses Make the Difference. The campaign aims to raise awareness around the crucial role that nurses play in supporting people living with diabetes.

Diabetes burden to be heavier

Some 11 percent of Iranians above 25 years old, accounting for 5 million people, are suffering from diabetes, and 18 percent of the population are pre-diabetic, health ministry official Alireza Mahdavi said in November 2019.

In Iran, 25 percent of people are not aware of their diabetes, which is 50 percent in the world; in West Asia and North Africa, 60 percent of people are unaware of their diabetes.

About 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, the majority living in low-and middle-income countries, and 1.6 million deaths are directly attributed to diabetes each year.

Both the number of cases and the prevalence of diabetes have been steadily increasing over the past few decades. As it is expected that by 2030, 578 million people will develop diabetes, and the number of patients may exceed 700 million by 2045.

In 2019, 4.2 million people died of diabetes. And now, 50 percent of coronavirus patients were diabetic.

About 90 percent of diabetics are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes worldwide. Education, self-care, and following a healthy lifestyle, and using medication are effective in controlling the disease.

Type 2 diabetes is preventable and in some cases can be cured early. Lack of access to insulin, failure to early diagnosis of type 1 diabetes leading to diabetic ketoacidosis is a common cause of death in children and adolescents.

Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, and lower limb amputation. A healthy diet, physical activity, and avoiding tobacco use can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. In addition, diabetes can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with medication, regular screening, and treatment for complications.

Nurses play a vital role 

Nurses currently account for over half of the global health workforce. They do outstanding work to support people living with a wide range of health concerns. People who either live with diabetes or are at risk of developing the condition need their support too.

People living with diabetes face a number of challenges, and education is vital to equip nurses with the skills to support them.

As the number of people with diabetes continues to rise across the world, the role of nurses and other health professional support staff becomes increasingly important in managing the impact of the condition.

Healthcare providers and governments must recognize the importance of investing in education and training. With the right expertise, nurses can make a difference for people affected by diabetes.

Nurses make up 59 percent of health workers as the largest group of this career. The world nursing workforce is 27.9 million, more than 19.3 million of whom are professional nurses.

About 90 percent of the nursing workforce are women.

National diabetic week

In Iran, the national diabetic week is held on November 14-20 in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The health ministry has assigned each day of the week with a special theme as follows:

Saturday, November 14: the role of self-care in the control of diabetes

Sunday, November 15: the role of nurses in the diagnosis and control of diabetes

Monday, November 16: 100th anniversary of discovering insulin

Tuesday, November 17: the role of health workers and health ambassadors in diabetes prevention and control education

Wednesday, November 18: the role of digital technology in self-care and diabetes control

Thursday, November 19: the role of healthy nutrition and physical activity in the prevention and control of diabetes

Friday, November 20: the role of optimal diabetes control in reducing the risk of COVID-19 complications

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