12th November 2021

World Diabetes Day (WDD) was founded in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization to raise awareness of the increasing health threat posed by diabetes among the public and in political arenas. WDD is the world’s largest diabetes awareness campaign, reaching an audience of over 1 billion people in more than 160 countries around the globe.1

The aims of the World Diabetes Day campaign are:

1. To promote IDF advocacy efforts throughout the year

2. To be the global driver to promote the importance of taking coordinated and concerted actions to confront diabetes as a critical global health issue

Different types of diabetes
There are several types of diabetes. The most common are type 1, accounting for about 8% of cases, which is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas; and type 2, accounting for about 90% of cases, which is caused by insulin resistance associated with obesity, and is largely linked to lifestyle factors.2

Diabetes is a growing health problem worldwide
In 2019, 463 million adults – an astonishing 1 in every 11 - were living with diabetes, and that number is expected to increase to 578 million by 2030. Accordingly, the healthcare costs associated with treating the various forms of diabetes are huge. In 2019, at least $760 billion was spent on diabetes care, which is about 10% of the total global expenditure on healthcare.1

Here are some other facts about the diabetes epidemic:1,2

• 1 in 2 adults with diabetes remain undiagnosed (around 232 million) – most of these cases are type 2 diabetes because it has a slower onset than type 1 so symptoms are easier to miss

• More than 3 in 4 people with diabetes live in low and middle-income countries

• 1 in 6 live births (20 million) are affected by high blood glucose (hyperglycaemia) in pregnancy

• Diabetes caused 4.2 million deaths in 2019

Recognising symptoms can lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment
Although symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop more slowly than those of type 1, they do have many symptoms in common which we should all be aware of:2

• The need to urinate frequently, especially at night

• Feeling very thirsty a lot of the time

• Feeling more tired than usual

• Losing weight without trying 

• Genital itching or thrush

• Cuts and wounds take longer to heal

World Diabetes Day theme for 2021
The World Diabetes Day campaign focuses on specific themes which each run for one or more years. For 2021 to 2023 the theme is ‘Access to Diabetes Care – If Not Now, When?’.1

WDD is marked every year on 14 November because this was Sir Frederick Banting’s birthday - the co-discoverer of insulin with Charles Best in 1921. This year, therefore, marks the 100th anniversary of this ground-breaking – and life-saving – discovery. The following year, in 1922, the first human patient with diabetes was successfully injected with purified insulin.2 

Insulin and its analogues are still a mainstay treatment for diabetes, but millions of people with diabetes around the world cannot access the care they need to manage their condition and avoid complications. The global diabetes community can change this.1

To find out more about World Diabetes Day and how you can get involved, go to: https://worlddiabetesday.org/get-involved/ 

1. World Diabetes Day. Available at: https://worlddiabetesday.org/
2. Diabetes UK. Available at https://diabetes.org.uk