The World Health Organization (WHO) has attributed 35million deaths every year (60%) to Non Communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer and diabetes. Diabetes is one of those dubbed as the world's leading killer diseases today, having caused about 1.3 million deaths with a global prevalence of 10% among adults aged 25 years and above in 2008 (World Health Organization, 2008). "Diabetes is a chronic, debilitating and costly disease associated with severe complications, which poses severe risks for families, Member States and the entire world and serious challenges to the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals."(UN Resolution 61/225)
So global is the diabetes epidemic that November 14th is celebrated annually as the World's Diabetes Day. An International Diabetes Federation was also founded, with memberships from over 160 countries with an aim of uniting to advocate for better policies for diabetic patients in one voice. During the last diabetes day, celebrated on November 14, 2012, the Federation estimated that about 371million people have diabetes globally( Lorenzo, 2012). The figures have been projected to increase by 2015 if proper measures will not be fully implemented to avert the rate of these increasing Non-Communicable Diseases, diabetes included.
Diabetes, portrayed by high levels of sugar in the blood, has also been cited as a leading cause of heart attacks and strokes among adults. The World Health Organization categorizes diabetes into two groups; type 1 diabetes that is prevalent among adolescent and children and the type 2 diabetes, highly prevalent among adults and the most common affecting a higher population globally(World Health Organization, 2008). The globally recognized signs and symptoms of diabetes include but not limited to the following factors: frequent urination intervals, massive weight loss and increased hunger/appetite leading to kidney failures, blindness, impotence, strokes or even heart attacks. It is however unfortunate that the epidemic is rarely detected at the initial stages of development among those who suffer from it, until at a later stage when it has caused damages within the body organs (International Diabetes Federation, 2008).
The cost of diabetes treatment is almost catastrophic in that it can drain an individual's resources and financial savings hence affecting even the family members. The household incomes become strained as very little or no financial securities maybe left for investment. Diabetes also affects a productive age group in a country's population thus stifling economic growth and development, as people's production at the workplace is affected. Despite this, diabetes could be curbed using both primary and secondary intervention measures. Primary for those already having the disease while secondary for those who are not infected.
To begin with, laboratory screening and diagnosis is very vital to estimate the disease severity and analyze the appropriate measure response. Countries have adopted national medical screening of citizens to promote early diabetes detections. Other nations like the USA, Russia among others have adopted the Federal Laws on Diabetes that have outlines the rights and protections of all those with diabetes. Research and development has also been key strategies used by countries to combat the spread of diabetes. Scientists and other researchers have invested in conducting research on the development of the diabetes control and preventive measures. These have included research analysis on health policies that have helped government to make evidence based policy formulations. Australia has adopted strong systems for diabetes surveillance. This involves a continuous process of gathering, analyzing and evaluating diabetes data among the Australian population then disseminating the research findings to the government, who are the policy makers and other health development partners to help inform their decision making processes.
Other nursing interventions being implemented by governments include the training, capacity building and development of community health workers on diabetes, who then use the knowledge and skills acquired on the epidemic to enlighten the other citizens in local communities, especially in rural areas. Countries may also work hand in hand with the Commonwealth communities to develop global accreditations standards of providing education and information on diabetes to empower the masses.
Actions points outlining diabetes preventive measures were developed and adopted as the UN resolutions on World Diabetes Day in 2006 on December 20th during the 61st session of the United Nations' General.
These included but not limited to: early diabetes detection strategies, promoting healthy lifestyles through improving diets to balanced diets, regular physical exercises to combat obesity, guaranteed medical care for diabetic patients, improvement to quality and affordable healthcare, creation of regional diabetic centers and strengthening the exiting legislations on non communicable disease management and treatment. The UN called on all global governments to work with healthcare stakeholders in their countries to create more awareness of the diabetes epidemic.