Diabetes affects more than 250 million people worldwide and experts say that by 2025, that number will soar to 380 million. The disease kills as may people annually as HIV/AIDS. Despite this, the diabetes epidemic still lurks in the shadows. But in 2006, the United Nations made a huge step at rectifying this unfortunate reality by recognized diabetes as posing as serious a global health threat as infectious epidemics such as HIV/AIDS.
The UN resolution designated November 14 as World Diabetes Day, and focused world attention on the need to stop the growing diabetes epidemic through urgent action by the global family of nations.
Just the facts
Diabetes is a global problem with devastating human, social and economic impact. Today more than 250 million people worldwide are living with diabetes. There are 23.6 million children and adults in the United States who have diabetes. 5.7 million don’t even know they have the disease! The disease kills one person every 10 seconds.
- Type 1 diabetes, which predominately affects youth, is rising alarmingly worldwide, at a rate of 3% per year. Some 70,000 children worldwide are expected to develop type 1 diabetes this year alone.
- Type 2 diabetes is responsible for 90 -95% of diabetes cases and is increasing at alarming rates globally as a result of increased urbanization, high rates of obesity, inactive lifestyles and stress.
- In many countries in Asia, the Middle East, the Southwest Pacific and the Caribbean, diabetes affects up to 20% of the adult population. These countries bear the brunt of the major increase in diabetes prevalence and also the burden of the costs.
- Indigenous populations face genetic genocide because of their high genetic predisposition for type 2 diabetes. Worldwide, more than50% of adults over the age of 35 in indigenous communities have diabetes.
Despite these grim statistics, we have the knowledge to tackle the diabetes epidemic, and reduce the suffering and pre-mature deaths that diabetes causes.
While Diabetes is not yet curable, it’s not a death sentence either. In many cases type 2 diabetes is preventable and type 1 diabetes is manageable. If governments begin now by promoting low-cost strategies that alter diet, increase physical activity and modify lifestyles, the advance of this epidemic can be reversed. It’s time for governments to step up to the plate!
And that’s why the World Diabetes Day was created – to alert people to the growing epidemic and motivate change now before the disease gets out of our control.
What can you get involved in World Diabetes Day?
There are many ways to get involved:
The monument challenge
Last year, the communities rallied behind the call to light iconic landmarks and buildings in bhlue to mark World Diabetes Day. A total of 270 iconic monuments were lit in 2007 as beacons of hope for the millions of people worldwide living with diabetes. Monuments in the US included the Empire State Building in New York, Sears Tower in Chicago, Prudential Tower in Boston, and Los Angeles Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles. This year, with your help, the goal is to illuminate more than 500 monuments.
Get local politicians in on it
In 2007, political representatives around the world issued official statements in support of World Diabetes Day. Why not approach your local government representative for an official message of support? And make the official signing an awareness-raising activity in your area.
Do something with your community
Each year, diabetes representative organizations, industry partners and committed individuals organize activities on or around World Diabetes Day. Typical activities include walks, bicycle rides, educational rallies and exhibits. Last a number a of human blue circles were organized. They were simple ideas that had great visual impacts. So take part in an organized event or host one of your own!
Do it yourself
If you can't find an event near you, try illuminating your home in blue.. or in the interest of energy conservation, light a blue candle for World Diabetes Day. Every little bit counts.
United Nations