April 7th is a day dedicated to health awareness around the world. Sponsored by the World Health Organization, World Health Day was first celebrated in 1950. It is seen as the opportunity for the organization to draw attention to a major global health issue each year. And this year the WHO has decided to dedicate the day to diabetes, which is becoming a “global epidemic”.
World Health Day – past topics
Since the mid-1990s, the World Health Day was dedicated to a variety of issues. The eradication of polio, the safety of motherhood and blood transfusions, the increased safety of cities and hospitals were among its topics. Last year the focus was on food safety. This year the theme of the event is diabetes, a largely preventable health condition, which is rapidly increasing all around the world.
Diabetes in numbers
According to the WHO, over 350 million people in the world have diabetes. And the prevalence of the condition is growing. The organization expects the number of diabetics to explode by 2030 – unless something is done, of course. Diabetes was estimated to affect 9% of all adults aged 18+ in 2014 and has caused an estimated 1.5 million deaths in 2012.
There are three main types of diabetes: Type 1, which is caused by the deficiency of insulin production, type 2, which is largely the result of an unhealthy lifestyle, and gestational diabetes, which only appears during pregnancy.
If nothing changes, diabetes will become the 7th leading cause of death worldwide by 2030.
Diabetes can be prevented
This year’s World Health Day proposes to raise the population’s (and the officials’) awareness about diabetes and the ways it can be prevented. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed through simple changes in one’s lifestyle – maintaining a normal body weight, regular physical activity, and a healthy diet.
The official objectives of this year’s World Health Day are as follows:
- Increase awareness about the rise in diabetes, and its staggering burden and consequences, in particular in low-income and middle-income countries.
- Trigger a set of specific, effective and affordable actions to tackle diabetes. These will include steps to prevent diabetes and diagnose, treat and care for people with diabetes.
- Launch the first WHO Global report on diabetes, which will describe the burden and consequences of diabetes and advocate for stronger health systems to ensure improved surveillance, enhanced prevention and more effective management of diabetes.
If you want to get involved, you can find out more about the initiative here. You can take the quiz to see how much you know about diabetes, and you can share the official posters of the initiative on social media, using the hashtag #diabetes.