November 14th marks World Diabetes Day, an annual event aimed at raising awareness about diabetes and promoting access to proper care and treatment. This year’s theme, « Access to Diabetes Care, » emphasizes the importance of facilitating the access to diabetes treatment and in the same light, addressing the causes of diabetes and implementing preventive measures to curb its prevalence.

Diabetes, a chronic disease characterized by high blood sugar levels, affects millions of people worldwide. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF),  in 2021, over 537 million adults (20-79 years) were living with diabetes – 1 in 10. A figure which is predicted to rise to 643 million by 2030 and 783 million by 2045.

It is worth noting, there are two main types of diabetes: Type 1, which is usually diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, and Type 2, which typically develops in adulthood and is often associated with lifestyle factors. While the exact causes of diabetes are not fully understood, several risk factors have been identified.

Unhealthy eating habits, sedentary lifestyles, and obesity are among the leading causes of Type 2 diabetes. Excessive consumption of sugary drinks and processed foods, combined with a lack of physical activity, can according to concrete sources, contribute to weight gain and insulin resistance, a key factor in the development of the disease.

Type 1 diabetes, on the other hand, is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The exact triggers for this autoimmune response are still unknown, but genetic and environmental factors are believed to play a role.

Prevention is key. Adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight can significantly reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. For those with Type 1 diabetes, proper management through insulin therapy and regular monitoring of blood sugar levels is crucial.

However, access to diabetes care remains a challenge for many individuals, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. This is as a result of limited resources, inadequate healthcare infrastructure, and high treatment costs and over 3 in 4 adults with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries, according to the IDF.

FRU William.


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