Di­a­betes Mel­li­tus is a life-long dis­ease no­tice­able by el­e­vated lev­els of sugar in the blood ei­ther be­cause the body does not pro­duce enough in­sulin or be­cause cells do not re­spond to the in­sulin that is pro­duced. In­sulin is the prin­ci­pal hor­mone that reg­u­lates up­take of glu­cose from the blood into most cells. It is re­leased into the blood stream by beta cells found in the Islet of Langer­hans in the pan­creas in re­sponse to ris­ing lev­els of blood glu­cose, typ­i­cally af­ter eat­ing.

Glob­ally, di­a­betes has be­come a huge med­i­cal con­cern. Though the dis­ease is preva­lent across the world, ex­perts have pre­dicted that there would be an up­surge in its oc­cur­rence in Asia and Africa due to the trend of ur­ban­i­sa­tion and the dy­namism of life­style change.

Rel­e­vant sta­tis­ti­cal data has shown that as at 2010, an es­ti­mated 285 mil­lion peo­ple had di­a­betes mel­li­tus. Scar­ily, ex­perts have pre­dicted that this fig­ure would al­most dou­ble by 2030. In Africa, an es­ti­mated 14.7 mil­lion adults had the dis­ease in 2011. With an es­ti­mated fig­ure of 1.7 mil­lion, Nige­ria has the largest num­ber of peo­ple liv­ing with di­a­betes in Africa. This num­ber is ex­pected to rise to 4.8 mil­lion by 2030.

It is in an at­tempt to promptly deal with the dis­ease and the threat it poses to mankind that the World Di­a­betes Day is cel­e­brated an­nu­ally. Glob­ally, the day is held on Novem­ber 14 of ev­ery year to draw uni­ver­sal at­ten­tion to the re­al­ity of the threat posed by di­a­betes to the well­be­ing of mil­lions of peo­ple across the world. The day was launched in 1991 by the In­ter­na­tional Di­a­betes Fed­er­a­tion (IDF) and the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) in re­ac­tion to the in­crease of di­a­betes around the world.

By the 2016 edi­tion, the day was be­ing com­mem­o­rated by over 230 IDF mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tions in more than 160 coun­tries as well as by other nu­mer­ous global stake­hold­ers. Tra­di­tion­ally, ac­tiv­i­ties lined up to mark the day of­ten in­clude di­a­betes screen­ing, me­dia cam­paigns and nu­mer­ous other so­cial events among oth­ers.

Each year, the World Di­a­betes Day com­mem­o­ra­tion fo­cuses on dif­fer­ent themes and fac­tors that pro­mote the risk of di­a­betes and its com­pli­ca­tions. De­lib­er­ately, this year’s edi­tion, with the theme: ‘Women and di­a­betes - our right to a healthy fu­ture’, has been par­tic­u­larly cho­sen to fo­cus on the in­creas­ing rate of women with cases of the dis­ease. The essence is to pro­mote the sig­nif­i­cance of af­ford­able and rea­son­able ac­cess for all women at risk for or liv­ing with di­a­betes to the nec­es­sary di­a­betes drugs, tech­nolo­gies, self-man­age­ment ed­u­ca­tion and in­for­ma­tion they re­quire with a view to at­tain­ing best pos­si­ble di­a­betes out­comes as well as strength­en­ing their abil­ity to avoid type 2 di­a­betes. With­out a doubt, ev­ery woman with di­a­betes re­quires rea­son­able and eq­ui­table ac­cess to care and ed­u­ca­tion to bet­ter man­age their di­a­betes and im­prove their health out­comes.

The fact that this year’s World Di­a­betes Day fo­cuses mainly on women is an in­di­ca­tion that quite a rea­son­able num­ber of women are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly vul­ner­a­ble to the dis­ease. Re­search has shown that two out of ev­ery five women with di­a­betes are of re­pro­duc­tive age, thus ac­count­ing for over 60 mil­lion women glob­ally. Ac­cord­ing to avail­able WHO record, there are cur­rently over 199 mil­lion women liv­ing with di­a­betes all over the world. This, of course, is a stag­ger­ing fig­ure. But then, ex­perts opine that the present fig­ure is very much likely to in­crease to 313 mil­lion by 2040.

To fur­ther un­der­score the threat posed by di­a­betes to the well­be­ing of women across the world, it has been dis­cov­ered that the mal­ady is now the ninth lead­ing killer of women glob­ally, caus­ing 2.1 mil­lion deaths per year. Women with type 2 di­a­betes are al­most 10 times more likely to have coro­nary heart dis­ease than women with­out the con­di­tion. Women with type 1 di­a­betes have an in­creased risk of early mis­car­riage or hav­ing a baby with mal­for­ma­tions.

As a re­sult of so­cio-eco­nomic con­di­tions, girls and women with di­a­betes ex­pe­ri­ence bar­ri­ers in ac­cess­ing cost-ef­fec­tive di­a­betes pre­ven­tion, early de­tec­tion, di­ag­no­sis, treat­ment and care, par­tic­u­larly in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. So­cio-eco­nomic in­equal­i­ties ex­pose women to the main risk fac­tors of di­a­betes, in­clud­ing poor diet and nu­tri­tion, phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity, to­bacco con­sump­tion and harm­ful use of al­co­hol.

Two out of ev­ery five women with di­a­betes are of re­pro­duc­tive age, ac­count­ing for over 60 mil­lion women world­wide. Women with di­a­betes have more dif­fi­culty con­ceiv­ing and may have poor preg­nancy out­comes. With­out pre-con­cep­tion planning, type 1 and type 2 di­a­betes can re­sult in a sig­nif­i­cantly higher risk of ma­ter­nal and child mor­tal­ity and mor­bid­ity. Tayo Ogun­biyi, La­gos State Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion and Strat­egy, Alausa, La­gos

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