Global Health and Diabetes Global Health and Diabetes

Is Diabetes a Global Health Issue?

The answer to whether or not diabetes is a global health issue will change depending on who is answering the question and what their definition of “global health” is but many people will say that diabetes is in fact a significant global health issue.

Global health can be defined as the study of the health of populations in the global context. This includes the area of study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide. Global health often focuses on health problems that transcend international borders as well as ones that have a global political and economic impact.

Diabetes is a major public health problem throughout the globe. In some regions of the globe it is approaching epidemic proportions. While diabetes is noncommunicable, its prevalence is increasing at alarming rates. This, along with other compromising factors related to diabetes, make it a global health issue that many people feel needs to be put at the forefront of research and action plans.


Diabetes is a chronic, non-contagious disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot process and effectively use the insulin the pancreas does produce.  Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that regulates the amount of glucose in blood.

A common side effect of uncontrolled diabetes is hyperglycemia, Hyperglycemia means, raised blood sugar. If a person is hyperglycemic and does not get treatment to mitigate this condition, it can cause serious damage to different body systems, especially those of the nervous, circulatory and vascular systems. 

There are different types of diabetes. The most common are:

Type 1

Type 1 diabetes is often referred to as juvenile, childhood-onset and insulin dependent diabetes, and is characterized by deficient insulin production. It typically requires daily administration of insulin. The cause of this kind of diabetes is currently unknown nor have prevention methods been figured out.

People with untreated type 1 diabetes often experience symptoms that include excessive urination (polyuria), chronic thirst, constant hunger, weight loss, fatigue and vision changes. 

Type 2

Type 2 diabetes is often referred to as non-insulin-dependent, or adult-onset diabetes. 

Bodies afflicted with this type of diabetes results in the body not being able to efficiently use the insulin it does produce. The cause of type 2 diabetes is typically attributed to excess body weight and lack of physical activity. 

People with type 2 diabetes can experience similar symptoms to those caused by type 1 diabetes but they are often less marked and as a result, diabetes is often not diagnosed until it has begun to damage their systems. Many people with type 2 diabetes do not realize they have it until complications from it have arisen.

Type 2 diabetes was only seen in adults until recently when, more and more children are being diagnosed with it. 

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes can occur in women who are pregnant. It is hyperglycemia with blood glucose values above normal but below those diagnostic of diabetes. 

In the U.S., gestational diabetes is diagnosed through prenatal screenings rather than through reported symptoms. It can cause complications during pregnancy and at delivery, as well as it increases a woman and her child’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

Diabetes is a serious health problem throughout the world. The number of cases are on the rise and is a global health problem that is being studied and addressed. It should continue to be done so until it is under control.

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