Diabetes is one of the largest global health emergencies of the 21st century. Each year growing numbers of people are living with this condition, which can result in life-changing complications, including heart diseases, stroke, blindness, amputations and kidney failure. The risk of these complications can be reduced through early and accurate diagnosis of the disease, good blood glucose control and sound management – but we need to empower health professionals and people with diabetes around the world with information and technologies if the burden of diabetes is to be controlled.

According to the latest estimates published by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) in 2015, 415 million adults (83 per cent in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC)) are living with diabetes and this number is expected to rise to 642 million (or 1 adult in 10) by 2040. It is of particular concern that around half of people currently living with diabetes do not know they have it. Failure to diagnose diabetes means the disease will not be well managed, increasing the risk of complications.

Despite the alarming numbers, many countries are still unaware of the social and economic impact of diabetes. This lack of understanding is the biggest barrier to effective prevention strategies that could help halt its inexorable rise.

It is therefore of paramount importance that  individuals and organisations working for the benefit of people with diabetes and people at risk of diabetes continue and strengthen their efforts for enhanced public awareness and action on behalf of health and other public authorities. These continued efforts will serve as a catalyst for governments and organisations to act with more haste and greater effectiveness to put in place early interventions, improved screening and timely management to reduce the impact of diabetes on the individual and society.