Diabetes on the World Stage

Is diabetes a global health issue?The global prevalence of diabetes as a life-altering disease has drastically changed the health landscape of world communities. Affecting the health and economic stability of millions in the overall world population, this begs the question: Is diabetes a global health issue? The simple answer is yes, but there are many factors involved in addressing the burden of diabetes on the global stage.

Causes of Diabetes

Research indicates that Type 1 diabetes, often diagnosed in childhood, results from uncontrollable factors such as genetic inheritance, autoimmune dysfunction, or environmental factors, and is currently considered non-preventable. Type 2 diabetes, however, is of greater concern to health providers worldwide, as it is a result of unhealthy behaviors related to obesity and physical inactivity, among other factors. The real danger, however, is in lack of available treatment for diabetic patients. Because of the aggressive nature of this disease and severe lack of nutrition education in impoverished communities, many people lack the access to the diagnosis or treatment that they need to overcome it.

Life-changing Symptoms

The symptoms experienced by diabetic patients can severely impact the individual quality of life, as well as their economic stability. While the severity of the disease can range from patient to patient, the risks of insufficient treatment for diabetes can be the following:

  • Heart Failure – Because of the damage sustained over time by the vascular system, diabetic patients are at increased risk for heart attack or stroke, and associated risks of heart disease.
  • Kidney Failure – Insulin and pancreas dysfunction can ultimately cause one or both kidneys to fail.
  • Neuropathy – Damage to the nerves in the feet can actually lead to the need for amputation, leaving a patient permanently disabled.
  • Blindness – Damage to small blood vessels in the eyes can cause retinopathy, leading to a partial or full loss of vision.

When a person with diabetes goes without proper healthcare, they are at risk for these debilitating chronic conditions. Over time, the body of an untreated diabetic patient will sustain greater damage and may even cause early death.

Healthcare Aid Efforts

As a global health issue, it is difficult to tackle the problem of diabetes head-on. With the vastly differing levels of education and healthcare accessibility among world populations, global health organizations work to prevent uncontrolled diabetes in lower-income communities by investing in educational resources and diagnostic tools to help local health providers recognize the symptoms and risks of this disease.   

Though diabetes is diagnosed on an individual basis as a non-communicable disease, the impact it has on a global scale is staggering. Through nutrition-based education, world health organizations around the world hope to increase preventative care to curb the rise of behaviors that contribute to this disabling disease. 

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