Prof Andrew Boulton, President, International Diabetes Federation, calls for more to be done to improve access to diabetes education
Healthcare systems around the world are struggling to keep up with the rising tide of diabetes, and diabetes education is becoming more necessary by the year. More than half a billion people are now living with the condition and this figure is expected to exceed 640 million by 2030, according to the latest figures from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).
In 2021 alone, diabetes led to 6.7 million deaths. This indicates a pressing need for better education and care to help people living with diabetes manage their condition and avoid life-threatening complications. Healthcare professionals must know how to detect and diagnose diabetes early and provide the best possible care. People living with diabetes need access to ongoing education to understand their condition and carry out the daily self-care essential to staying healthy and avoiding complications.
IDF calls on governments and policymakers to increase investment in diabetes education.
The rising tide of diabetes
Close to half of adults living with diabetes do not know they have it. The majority are in low-and lower-middle- income countries. When the condition is undetected or inadequately treated, it can lead to serious complications including blindness, heart attack, kidney failure, lower- limb amputation and stroke. Delaying or preventing these complications requires early diagnosis, uninterrupted access to medicines, tools to measure blood glucose and ongoing support to inform self-care.
The rising tide of diabetes is putting healthcare professionals under increasing pressure. On average, people with diabetes spend less than three hours per year with a healthcare professional, so most of the time they are making decisions about their condition for themselves. With such limited consultation time, healthcare professionals need to make the most of the time they have available with their patients and provide advice and educational tools to support self-care.
“A new online platform provides free interactive courses to help people with diabetes and their carers to understand and manage their condition. For healthcare professionals, the IDF School of Diabetes offers online courses to support their ongoing diabetes education.”
Supporting global commitments
Earlier this year at the World Health Assembly, countries agreed five ambitious global targets to achieve by 2030 that will guide their action on diabetes in the coming years.
- 80% of people with diabetes are diagnosed.
- 80% of people diagnosed have good control of blood glucose.
- 80% of people diagnosed have good control of blood pressure.
- 60% of people with diabetes over 40 years receive cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins).
- 100% of people with type 1 diabetes have access to affordable insulin treatment and blood glucose self- monitoring.
Achieving these targets would reduce the prevalence of diabetes-related complications and result in improved quality of life for many of the 640 million people that IDF estimates will be living with the condition in 2030.
Governments need to act now. They must dedicate sufficient resources to improve awareness of diabetes among their populations and invest in the training of healthcare professionals, to improve diabetes diagnosis rates and provide the best available diabetes treatment and care.
Diabetes education today to protect tomorrow
Education can help stop the rise of diabetes and prevent its complications. IDF is committed to facilitating learning opportunities for people with diabetes and health professionals. A new online platform provides free interactive courses to help people with diabetes and their carers to understand and manage their condition. For healthcare professionals, the IDF School of Diabetes offers online courses to support their ongoing diabetes education.
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