World Health Day 2016: WHO calls for global action to halt rise in and improve care for people with diabetes

The number of people living with diabetes has almost quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults, with most living in developing countries. Factors driving this dramatic rise include overweight and obesity.

WHO is marking its annual World Health Day (7 April), which celebrates the Organization’s founding in 1948, by issuing a call for action on diabetes. In its first “Global report on diabetes”, WHO highlights the need to step up prevention and treatment of the disease.

Health-promoting environments reduce risk factors

Measures needed include expanding health-promoting environments to reduce diabetes risk factors, like physical inactivity and unhealthy diets, and strengthening national capacities to help people with diabetes receive the treatment and care they need to manage their conditions.

“If we are to make any headway in halting the rise in diabetes, we need to rethink our daily lives: to eat healthily, be physically active, and avoid excessive weight gain,” says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “Even in the poorest settings, governments must ensure that people are able to make these healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose and treat people with diabetes.”

Diabetes is a chronic, progressive noncommunicable disease (NCD) characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose (blood sugar). It occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough of the insulin hormone, which regulates blood sugar, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.

For more information, please see the full report here: WHO Global Report on Diabetes

Diabetes and other Non-Communicable Diseases in the Commonwealth

Many Commonwealth countries have increasing burdens of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their determinants. These diseases include cancers, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases as well as diabetes. The increase is driven by major risk factors including tobacco use, physical inactivity, harmful consumption of alcohol and unhealthy diets, which are in turn a product of the wider social determinants of health. The global burden of these diseases is significant and threaten the ability of countries to achieve sustainable development.

To explore the health progress Commonwealth countries have made over the last 23 years, and the new challenges they face as their populations grow and undergo demographic changes, please see the collaborative report “State of Health in the Commonwealth: Preliminary Results from the Global Burden of Disease Study.” Also commissioned as a joint project between the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), the Commonwealth Secretariat and Public Health England (PHE) are individual country profiles. The Global Burden of Disease project can be found here: Commonwealth GBD.

The Commonwealth is working on a Health Systems Framework, which will form part of the topic of our upcoming future discussion on Diabetes and Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs). Also of particular interest is an upcoming digest report focusing on NCDs in the Small States of the Commonwealth. This will be available later this year.