The biggest health challenge

Diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges facing the UK and the world today. Globally, regions for particular concern are the Western Pacific including China with over 90 million cases of diabetes and Africa with 80 per cent of people with diabetes yet to be diagnosed. No country is immune.

Expected rise in diabetes cases

With rapid urbanisation, life- style changes and increased life expectancy in many regions of the world, we can expect to see rates of Type 2 diabetes soar in the coming 20 years. This disease, if not properly controlled, can bring with it devastating complications resulting in loss of sight and limbs. Yet most diabetes can be pre- vented, significantly delayed or controlled. With early diagnosis, treatment and effective management, health systems can save on expensive complications. People with diabetes can live long, healthy and productive lives.

Understand the different types

Diabetes mellitus or more simply diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced.

  • Type 1 diabetes can affect people of any age, but usually occurs in children or young adults. People with Type 1 diabetes need injections of insulin every day in order to control the levels of glucose in their blood.
  • Type 2 diabetes is characterised by insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency. The diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes usually occurs after the age of 40, but can occur earlier. It is often, but not always, associated with obesity and unhealthy lifestyles.

Protecting our future

The International Diabetes Federation is working to en- sure the next global development agenda is realigned to the reality of disease on the ground, and builds health systems that are focused on people and not specific diseases. We must work together to ensure diabetes is finally given the attention it urgently needs and is at the heart of the future development agenda. It remains an outrage that people with diabetes are dying in the 21st century from a lack of diagnosis, a lack of basic treatment and a lack of insulin, which was discovered over 90 years ago. Join us in our people’s movement to ensure diabetes is put onto the global health agenda! Protect our future and that of our children.

Professor Jean Claude Mbanya is President of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). He was instrumental in the IDF-led Unite for Diabetes campaign, which led to the passage of the United Nations Resolution on Diabetes in December 2006. He now steers IDF’s strategic direction to implement policies for the treatment, care and prevention of diabetes.