World Diabetes Day: Access to Diabetes Care, If not now, when?
by Berlin Kafoa
November 14th is World Diabetes Day, promoted every year in response to the increasing threats to health and sustainable development due to diabetes, experienced globally and in our home, the Pacific region.
Globally there are approximately 463 million adults living with diabetes and it is expected to reach 578 million by 2030. The Pacific region is no different as some countries are among the top 10 with the highest rate of diabetes in the world with over 30% in some countries. Coupled with this, climate change and COVID-19 increase comorbidities among people with diabetes and posing a critical threat to health and sustainable development in the Pacific region.
The theme for World Diabetes Day 2021 - 2023 is Access to Diabetes Care: If Not Now, When? People with diabetes require ongoing care and support to manage their condition and avoid complications. Essential components of diabetes care include access to medications, access to healthy food and safe place to exercise, access to self-monitoring and access to education and psychological support. Diabetes complications prevalence are indicators of poor diabetes care and in the Pacific, rates are substantial with up to 69% retinopathy and approximately 11% limb amputation.
The Pacific Community’s (SPC) Public Health Division is currently supporting an Integrated Diabetes Care project with Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, and Tonga and this will gradually extend to other countries. The objective of this project is to improve the quality, accessibility, and effectiveness of diabetes care at the primary health care level through improved system of care, upskilled workforce and upgraded facilities. Furthermore, there are resources to strengthen diabetes education and management, including the Pacific Healthy Dietary Guidelines for people with diabetes and a diabetes education package for health workers.
At SPC we are strong advocates for empowering and strengthening of efforts at regional and national level to prevent and control diabetes through improved accessibility to optimal diabetes care, possible, and calls on governments to invest in diabetes care and prevention.