Access to diabetes care: If not now, when?

Diabetes, a silent disease with life-threatening complications.(photo;IANSLIFE)
Image Credit: IANS

World Diabetes Day (WDD) falls on November 14th. 'Access to diabetes education' is the theme for this year’s world diabetes day.

One of the fields that has made significant progress in the previous several decades is diabetes care. More and more innovative drugs are being created that benefit diabetic patients' heart and kidney health while also helping to maintain blood sugar levels in the optimal range. Recently, efforts to artificially close the loop between blood sugar sensing and insulin release have shown modest success. In many parts of the world, devices that continually measure glucose and modify insulin release are now readily available.

At the same time, three-fourth of the more than 500 million diabetes patients worldwide live in low and middle-income countries. 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. Importance of access to diabetes care can be understood under many contexts.

This year’s theme ‘Access to diabetes education’, underpins the larger multi-level theme of access to care.

Proper diabetes education is an essential part of diabetes care. Diabetes patients should be educated regarding the need for proper blood sugar control, need for control of other accompanying diseases like hypertension and high cholesterol, the risk of low blood sugars and how to tackle low blood sugars, the need for frequent testing for blood glucose and paediatric screening for diabetes complications etc among children.

Those using devices - which range from insulin syringe to insulin pump and glucometer to continue glucose monitoring systems - need to be educated regarding the proper use of the device.

Access to the right information is the most important component of this because when there is no need felt, people may not use the available resources. In spite of accessible and affordable diabetes care, acceptance still may be an issue if it is not accompanied by the right information. Misinformation in electronic media is a real threat to the acceptance of available diabetes care. It is high time for governments, professional organisations and medical and paramedical personnel to join hands to deliver the right information to diabetes patients.

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

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