WORLD DIABETES DAY: Experts Call for Action to Address Diabetes Epidemic

By Adam Hochron

As the world attempts to manage the novel COVID-19 pandemic, a group of experts published a report looking at another epidemic affecting more people, which has been around for considerably longer and has seen worse outcomes due to the virus in many cases. 

Ahead of World Diabetes Day on November 14, an article published in The Lancet called for action to close the gap in the prevention and care of diabetes. The authors noted that as of last year, more than 463 million patients were diagnosed with diabetes, of which 80% were from low and middle-income countries. Also, more than 4.2 million people died either directly because of the condition or complications associated with it. 

A press release about the report noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has “highlighted the vulnerability of people with diabetes” and that people with the condition are more likely to develop a severe case of the disease or die from it. The release also noted that people who live in disadvantaged communities have been shown to struggle more with both diabetes and the effects of the virus. 

The authors of the paper identified six components they said can best help patients manage their diabetes. These components include weight loss for patients with type 2 diabetes, reducing blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol, and using “data-driven, team-based integrated care.” 

“As the world seeks to create a more sustainable, fair, and equal future in the wake of COVID-19, the NCD community must become more effective advocates for change,” said Katie Dain, NCD Alliance of Switzerland, in a linked comment. “In celebrating the centenary of insulin discovery, we can create valuable opportunities to do so, with lived experience as the engine to drive further progress.”

Dain said part of that effort included calling on local governments around the globe to fulfill commitments to the United Nations, which call for “decisive, inclusive, and accountable leadership and investment,” to reach certain goals over the next decade. 

“Irrespective of the challenging financial landscape, investment in tackling diabetes and other NCDs now will prevent substantial and unsustainable health-care costs in the future,” Dain added. 

In addition to publishing their findings ahead of World Diabetes Day, the Lancet Commission on Diabetes is also working on the WHO Global Diabetes Compact, which is scheduled to be launched in April. 

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