Nurses make the distinction – Well being and Way of life

By Henrylito D. Tacio

According to the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO), the number of diabetics rose from 108 million in 1989 to 422 million in 2014. “Between 2000 and 2016, premature deaths from diabetes rose by 5%,” reports the United Nations Health Department .

In 2019, 463 million adults – one in 11 – were living with diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF). The number of people with diabetes is projected to rise to 578 million by 2030.

“More than 3 in 4 people with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries,” says the IDF, an umbrella organization of over 230 national diabetes associations in 170 countries and territories. “Two thirds of people with diabetes live in urban areas and three quarters are of working age.”

In 2016, an estimated 1.6 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes. By 2019, the number of deaths rose to 4.2 million.

With the number of diabetes cases and deaths soaring, it was no surprise that the IDF teamed up with WHO in 1991 to create World Diabetes Day (WWD).

In 2006, WWD was celebrated every year on November 14th, the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who in 1922, along with Charles Best, discovered insulin. The campaign was launched in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat posed by diabetes.

WWD campaigns each year focus on a specific topic that lasts for a year or more. This year the theme is The Nurse and Diabetes. “(It) aims to raise awareness of the vital role nurses play in helping people with diabetes,” the IDF stresses.

Nurses make up 59% of health professionals, according to the UN Health Authority. The global nursing workforce is 27.9 million, of which 19.3 million are professional nurses. “The global shortage of nurses was 5.9 million in 2018, 89% of this shortage is concentrated in low- and middle-income countries,” explains the WHO.

“The number of trained and employed nurses must increase by 8% annually to overcome alarming professional shortages by 2030,” adds the WHO.

(Photos courtesy of WHO)

When it comes to diabetes, nurses make all the difference. “As the number of people with diabetes continues to grow around the world, the role of nurses and other health care professionals in managing the effects of the disease will become increasingly important,” said the IDF.

“Nurses are often the first, and sometimes only, health care professional with whom a person interacts. Therefore, the quality of their initial assessment, care, and treatment is critical, ”notes the IDF.

According to the IDF, nurses play an important role in diagnosing diabetes early to ensure prompt treatment, self-management training and psychological support for people with diabetes to prevent complications, and in combating the risk factors for type 2 diabetes to develop the condition to prevent .

The IDF says that one in two adults is undiagnosed with diabetes. Most of them have type 2 diabetes.

“There remains a significant need for more education and funding to equip nurses around the world with the skills to support people with diabetes and those at risk for type 2 diabetes,” said the IDF.

The IDF urges health care providers and the government to recognize the importance of investing in education and training. “With the right expertise, nurses can make all the difference to people who have diabetes,” the IDF believes.

An estimated 7.3 million people in the Philippines have diabetes, of which 3.5 million have been diagnosed and the remainder undiagnosed. No wonder that the Philippines are touted today as a “diabetes hotspot”.

The prevalence of diabetes in adults is 6.2%. Studies show that every 6 seconds a person dies from complications of diabetes. “Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death among Filipinos,” says the Department of Health (DOH), the country’s leading government agency for public health.

If that doesn’t scare you, diabetes is a very devastating disease. “It destroys many organs in our bodies,” Dr. JM Co, chairman of the medical department of the University of East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center, Inc., quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Over time, if left untreated, diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.

Adults with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have heart attacks and strokes, according to the WHO. When combined with decreased blood flow, neuropathy (nerve damage) in the feet increases the likelihood of foot ulcers, infections and the potential for limb amputation.

Diabetic retinopathy is an important cause of blindness and, according to the WHO, occurs as a result of long-term accumulated damage to the small blood vessels in the retina. In fact, diabetes is the cause of 2.6% of the world’s blindness.

(Photos courtesy of WHO)

More importantly, diabetes is one of the leading causes of kidney failure.

In a battle, you must first know your enemy. “Diabetes is a lifelong disease that occurs in people who may not make enough insulin in the body or who do not respond properly to insulin,” explains Dr. Maria Princess Landicho-Kanapi of the Philippine Foundation for Diabetes Awareness, Inc.

There are actually two forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes (also known as insulin-dependent diabetes) is caused by a decrease in insulin levels. The body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas and causes a lack of insulin. As a result, people with this type of diabetes need regular injections of insulin to maintain glucose control.

In contrast, type 2 diabetes (also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes) occurs primarily not because of a lack of insulin, but because the body does not respond effectively to circulating insulin. This condition is known as insulin resistance. Because of this, newly diagnosed people do not need insulin injections.

“If you look at the spread of the Scourge around the world, type 2 diabetes occurs when a country advances in technology, when people come out of the fields to sit behind desks,” notes Dr. Irwin Brodsky, director of the diabetes treatment program at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Type 2 is the stress most people fear. This is the actual epidemic that makes up 85 to 90 percent of diabetes cases in the country. “Early diagnosis is important as most serious complications are preventable,” assures Dr. Marie Yvette Rosales-Amante, who had her fellowship in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism from the University of Massachusetts. – ###

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