In view of the escalating health threat posed by diabetes, World Diabetes Day is observed every year on 14 November. It was first observed in 1991 by International Diabetes Federation (IDF) " an umbrella organisation of over 230 national diabetes associations in 170 countries and territories " and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
According to worlddiabetesday.org, World Diabetes Day became an official United Nations Day in 2006. For 2018 and 2019, the theme is 'Family and Diabetes'.
The reason why 14 November was picked to observe the day was because it is the birthday of Frederick Banting, who co-discovered insulin along with Charles Best in 1922.
The World Diabetes Day campaign is represented by a blue circle logo " also the global symbol for diabetes awareness " after the passage of the UN Resolution on diabetes.
On the eve of World Diabetes Day, WHO's Regional Director for South-East Asia Poonam Khetrapal Singh said that families which are aware about diabetes are best positioned to prevent it, and asserted that authorities should harness the capacity as about 91 million people in South East Asia live with the disease.
"Families that know the signs, symptoms, risks and complications of diabetes are best positioned to prevent the disease and seek medical care to manage it... Health authorities region-wide should harness this capacity given an estimated 91 million people in the WHO South-East Asia Region live with diabetes, with around 49 million unaware of their condition," she said.
Singh noted that undiagnosed or poorly controlled diabetes type 1 and type 2 can cause heart, kidney, nerve and eye damage, as well as premature death.
Singh said families provide a ready-made means to instill healthy habits that last a lifetime, dramatically reducing the risk of diabetes type 2, which accounts for the majority of such cases. "They can also help ensure that the disease is detected and managed effectively. Doing so will avoid complications and the costs it results in for individuals, families, communities and countries," Singh said.
WHO's South-East Asia Region comprises Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
The WHO regional director said health authorities should ensure all families have access to educational resources that help them better understand diabetes. "To enable this, health authorities can work across sectors to increase the access individuals and families have to healthy environments," she said.
Creation of green spaces and outdoor gyms in urban areas can facilitate exercise, she said. "So too can policies to decrease the amount of sugar and fat in foods and enhance people's ability to make healthier choices," she said.
All families should have access to affordable diabetes medicines, medical products and care, she said, noting this starts with ensuring services at the primary level are equipped to detect the disease and that a reliable supply of medicines and medical products used to manage it are on hand.
With inputs from PTI