Diabetes is a chronic disease or condition that is caused when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces. And believe it or not, it is one of the most life-threatening diseases in the world which kills lakhs of patients every year.
To raise more awareness and to provide a proper care to its patients, every year World Diabetes Day is observed on November 14. And this year, members of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) decided to throw some light on the growing concerns of women who are diabetic. As the theme for 2017, the organisation is on a mission to make people more aware about ‘Women and Diabetes’, especially those pregnant and how their newborn may be affected by the condition.
The main objective of this year’s campaign is to promote the importance of affordable and equitable access to medical care for all women. “Along with medication, it is important that they learn the factual information they require to achieve optimal diabetes outcomes and strengthen their capacity to prevent Type 2 diabetes, hence the project will also focus on that,” writes IDF on their website.
According to their statics, currently there are over 199 million women living with diabetes and this total is projected to increase to 313 million by 2040. “Gender roles and power dynamics influence vulnerability to diabetes, affect access to health services and health-seeking behaviour for women, and amplify the impact of diabetes on women,” they warn.
Some facts and numbers:
Warning that diabetes is the ninth leading cause of death in women globally, causing 2.1 million deaths each year, they urge all to take necessary action. Two out of every five women with diabetes are of reproductive age, accounting for over 60 million women worldwide. Women with diabetes have more difficulty conceiving and may have poor pregnancy outcomes. Also, one in seven births is affected by gestational diabetes.
Lastly, stressing that there are many myths and stigmas attached to diabetics and pregnancy, the agency says, “Stigmatisation and discrimination faced by people with diabetes are particularly pronounced for girls and women, who carry a double burden of discrimination because of their health status and the inequalities perpetrated in male-dominated societies.”
So, here are few measures that they think must be adopted to help to bring about a change in this scenario:
* All women with diabetes should have access to pre-conception planning services to reduce risk during pregnancy.
IDF estimates that 20.9 million of live births to women in 2015 had some form of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy. Approximately half of women with a history of gestational diabetes (GDM) have the chance to develop type 2 diabetes within five to ten years after delivery.
* All women and girls should have access to physical activity to have a healthy life. Promoting opportunities for physical exercise especially in adolescent girls, particularly in developing countries, must be a priority for diabetes prevention.
* Women with type 1 diabetes have a greater risk of early miscarriage or having a child with malformations. Hence, screening for diabetes and GDM should be integrated into other maternal health services. As an early detection ensure better care for women and reduced maternal mortality.
* Type 2 diabetes prevention strategies must focus on maternal health and nutrition and other health behaviours before and during pregnancy, as well as infant and early childhood nutrition.
* Antenatal care visits during pregnancy must be optimised for health promotion in young women and early detection of diabetes and GDM.
[with inputs from International Diabetes Federation]