November 1, 2022
November 14th is World Diabetes Day. Every year on this date the diabetes community celebrates the birthday of Sir Frederik G. Banting who, along with Dr. Charles H. Best, discovered insulin therapy right here in Toronto in 1921.
The invaluable contribution of Banting and Best to the treatment of diabetes cannot be overstated as insulin therapy has become a life-saving therapy for millions of people living with type 1 diabetes around the world. Insulin therapy is also required for many people with type 2 diabetes – the most common form of diabetes – and gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy.
While the discovery of insulin therapy is the most important milestone in the treatment of this complex and potentially debilitating condition, other aspects of diabetes management are also essential components for enhancing the quality of life of people living with diabetes. These include having ongoing access to adequate medical therapy and to qualified health professionals who are up-to-date with best practices in diabetes management. In order to reduce the risk of complications associated with diabetes, such as heart attack, stroke, vision loss and kidney failure, people with diabetes also need self-management education to support the daily decisions involved in achieving and maintaining optimal blood sugar control.
On World Diabetes Day, but also during the whole month of November, which is Diabetes Awareness Month, the community comes together to showcase the experience and incredible achievements of those living with diabetes, but also to bring attention to treatment gaps and to increase public education and awareness about diabetes management and prevention.
This year, the theme of World Diabetes Day is “Education to Protect Tomorrow”. This theme highlights the need for quality diabetes education for individuals living with diabetes and those around them to break down barriers, misconceptions and stigma that can impact self-management behaviours and consequently treatment outcomes. The theme also encompasses the education of health professionals involved in the care of those living with diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes to ensure timely access to diabetes screening, diagnosis and adjustments in therapy without delays when blood sugar targets are not being met. A recent study in both low- and high-income countries including Canada found however, that globally between 40 and 60% of people with diabetes have suboptimal glycemic control, which puts them at higher risk of developing diabetes-related complications.
The theme “Education to Protect Tomorrow” is hence a reminder of the central role of health care professionals in optimizing diabetes detection and management. It is also an invitation for everyone, whether directly impacted by diabetes or not, to become more informed about diabetes prevention and treatment, its impact both on the health of individuals and the health system, its growing prevalence around the world, and the need for continued investment in diabetes care and research.
By increasing your knowledge about diabetes, participating in a local event or connecting with the global diabetes community online, everyone is welcome to this year’s World Diabetes Day! In order to start the discussion, the International Diabetes Federation is simply asking you, “When did you last learn more about diabetes?”.
To access free diabetes education developed by the International Diabetes Federation and to learn about other ways to participate in World Diabetes Day, we invite you to check out the website below:
Blonde, L. et al. (2017). Gaps and barriers in the control of blood glucose in people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes & Vascular Disease Research. Vol. 14(3) 172–183.
Diabetes Canada. (2020). Diabetes in Canada: Backgrounder. Ottawa: Diabetes Canada.
International Diabetes Federation. (2022). World Diabetes Day. https://worlddiabetesday.org/