The need for access to diabetes care and awareness about it

Diabetes care is one of the disciplines which has made a great advance in the last few decades. More and more novel medicines are being developed to help keep blood sugars in the desired range as they also independently improve heart and kidney in patients with diabetes. Attempts to close the loop of blood sugar sensing and insulin release artificially have shown some success recently. Devices which continuously sense glucose and adjust insulin release accordingly are also available now in many parts of the world.

'Access to diabetes care' is the theme for this year’s world diabetes day (WDD), which falls on November 14.

At the same time, of the more than 500 million all diabetes patients worldwide, three forth live in low and middle-income countries. A large number of diabetes patients live in situations where even basic diabetes care facilities are not available. The theme “access to diabetes care” is very important in this context. The importance of access to diabetes care can be understood under many contexts.

Access to diabetes care

Making quality medicines affordable and accessible to all is important especially in low and middle-income countries. The cold chain should be maintained in the transportation and storage of medicines like insulin. Access to diabetes care is yet another area where patients in low and middle-income countries lack. Half the number of people with diabetes do not know that they have diabetes. Studies during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have shown that those with diabetes are at increased risk of complications from COVID-19. Undetected and untreated diabetes may be one of the reasons for increased complications of COVID-19 in some apparently healthy young people. This shows the importance of making blood sugar tests accessible to all those who are at risk.

Access to proper diabetes education

Proper diabetes education is an essential part of diabetes care. Diabetes patients should be educated regarding the need for proper blood sugar control, the need for control of other accompanying diseases like hypertension and high cholesterol, risk of low blood sugars and how to tackle low blood sugars, need for frequent testing for blood sugar control and diabetes complications, etc. Those using devices - which range from insulin syringe to insulin pump and glucometer to continuous glucose monitoring systems- need to be educated regarding the proper use of the device. Regular exercise and dietary modification will help prevent diabetes to a large extent. So, every community, school and so on should have access to facilities for physical exercise, playgrounds among others.

Access to right information is the most important aspect in diabetes care as people are likely to leave available resources unused. Despite the availability of accessible and affordable diabetes care, making use of it may still be an issue if it is not accompanied by the right information. Misinformation in electronic media is a real threat to accessing available diabetes care. It is high time governments, professional organisations and medical and paramedical personnel joined hands to deliver the right information to diabetes patients.

(Dr. Naseer Ali is a Senior Consultant, Endocrinology, Meitra Hospital, Kozhikode.)

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