Celebrated annually on November 14 National day, World Diabetes Day serves as a platform to amplify the voice for diabetes and commemorate the milestones that have shaped our understanding of the disease.

The theme for this year’s World Diabetes Day is “Empowering Global Health,” which highlights the need for unity in the fight against diabetes and empowers the community to improve global health. To truly grasp the significance of this day, it is essential to explore the history of diabetes and the monumental discovery of insulin, which laid the foundation for our ongoing battle against this health issue.

Brief History: When was diabetes discovered

Diabetes has a long history in medicine, with its name originating from the Greek word ‘siphon,’ reflecting excessive urination, a common symptom. Ancient healers observed symptoms like extreme thirst and frequent urination in those with diabetes, but our understanding remained limited until the 19th century.

In the early 20th century, a significant breakthrough occurred with the discovery of insulin, a life-saving hormone. Dedicated scientists, including Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best, made this discovery at the University of Toronto. They extracted insulin from the pancreas of dogs and found that it could effectively lower blood sugar levels when given to diabetic dogs. 

In 1922, they partnered with Eli Lilly and Company to make a more suitable form of insulin for humans. It marked the first successful human insulin treatment, with a 14-year-old named Leonard Thompson being the first patient. He was on the verge of a diabetic coma but made a remarkable recovery with this historic invention. As research continued to evolve, this invention revolutionized diabetes treatment and gave new hope to countless people worldwide. 

The Significance of World Diabetes Day

According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), approximately 540 million people worldwide have diabetes. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports a substantial increase in the number of people with diabetes, rising from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. Raising awareness about diabetes is crucial due to the presence of misconceptions, myths, and stigmas associated with this condition. Diabetes Awareness Day changes this narrative by disseminating knowledge, breaking down stigma, and fostering empathy and support for individuals and caregivers. Moreover, it emphasizes the necessity for immediate action to combat this public health crisis, advocating for policies that can effectively manage and prevent the disease.

In essence, World Diabetes Day is more than just a date; it’s a global call to action. It prompts us to learn, share, and support those impacted by diabetes, contributing to a healthier and more informed world community. It reminds us that through awareness and education, we can combat this complex health challenge and improve the quality of life for those navigating diabetes.

Activities on World Diabetes Day

Various activities and events around the world mark World Diabetes Day. These activities include:

  • Educational Programs: Many communities organize educational sessions, seminars, and workshops on diabetes-related topics. These events provide valuable information about diabetes, its prevention, and management.
  • Health Check-ups: On this day, you can often find free or discounted health check-ups, including blood sugar tests and screenings. It’s an excellent opportunity for people to assess their risk of diabetes.
  • Fundraising Walks and Runs: Participating in walks or runs is a common way to raise funds and awareness for diabetes. These events promote physical activity and support a good cause.
  • Public Lectures: Experts and healthcare professionals frequently deliver public lectures on diabetes, its treatment, and the latest advancements in the field. They offer valuable insights to the community.

Spreading Awareness Through Diabetes Education Resources

If you or someone in your social circle needs information about diabetes, then we thought of mentioning a few great resources for information and tools for support. Some notable ones include:

  • American Diabetes Association (ADA): A trusted source for diabetes-related information, offering a wide range of resources, from articles and guidelines to support for individuals living with diabetes.
  • World Health Organization (WHO): A specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for global public health, it offers global perspectives on diabetes, along with data, research, and policies for diabetes prevention and management.
  • CDC Diabetes: The CDC is a leading national public health agency in the United States. Their website offers trustworthy information on a wide range of health issues, including infectious diseases, chronic conditions, and health promotion.
  • Mayo Clinic: The Mayo Clinic is a renowned medical organization that provides reliable and accessible information on various health conditions, treatments, and prevention strategies. Its mission is to “inspire hope and promote health through integrated clinical practice, education, and research.” The Mayo Clinic’s website includes quality expert-reviewed articles, patient resources, and health news.
  • PubMed: PubMed is a database of biomedical literature that includes articles from scientific journals, research papers, and clinical studies. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) is responsible for maintaining this free and accessible database. However, note that some articles require a subscription or purchase.

 Getting Involved

Small actions can make a significant impact on the bigger picture. Here are some ways you can contribute: 

  • Attend Local Events: Participate in local World Diabetes Day events in your area, often organized by healthcare organizations, schools, or community groups.
  • Social Media Campaigns: Engage in social media campaigns to voice your opinion. Sharing facts, stories, and messages about diabetes can positively influence your social media circle. 
  • Wear Blue: Show your support by wearing blue, the official color of diabetes awareness. You can inspire your friends and colleagues to follow suit. 
  • Share Information: Share information about diabetes and World Diabetes Day with your social network. Use your online presence to educate others about the importance of this day.
  • Donate: Consider donating to organizations that work towards diabetes research, awareness, and patient support. Your contribution can make a difference in advancing efforts.

As we reflect on the history of diabetes and the discovery of insulin, we see that remarkable breakthroughs can transform the course of this condition. However, the fight against diabetes is far from over, and each of us can play a significant role.

Join us in the collective effort to combat diabetes. Whether you attend local events, share information online, support diabetes organizations, or educate yourself and others about diabetes, your actions have the power to make a meaningful impact. Together, we can work towards a world where diabetes is better understood, effectively managed and ultimately conquered.