Reading Time: 3 minutes

Paper bag with the word diabetes filled with healthy foods

The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that by 2030, diabetes will be the leading cause of death. According to WHO, in 2012, the disease was responsible for approximately 1.5 million deaths, with 80% of those occurring in low-income countries.

April 7, 2016 was acknowledged as World Health Day. That said, the challenges associated with this disease affects people every day. We have included some information below that you may find useful.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar, gives us the energy that we need to live. If it cannot get into the cells to be burned as energy, sugar builds up to harmful levels in the blood.

How many types are there?

There are 2 main forms of the diabetes. People with Type 1 Diabetes typically make none of their own insulin and therefore require insulin injections to survive.

People with Type 2 Diabetes, the form that comprises some 90% of cases, usually produce their own insulin, but not enough or they are unable to use it properly. People with Type 2 Diabetes are typically overweight and sedentary, 2 conditions that raise a person’s insulin needs.

A third type of diabetes is Gestational Diabetes. This type is characterised by hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar, with values above normal but below those diagnostic of diabetes, occurring during pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and at delivery. They are also at increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes in the future.

Can it be prevented?

Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented. Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days and a healthy diet can drastically reduce the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes cannot be prevented.


What are other health problems that result from diabetes?

Over time, high blood sugar can seriously compromise every major organ system in the body, causing heart attacks, strokes, nerve damage, kidney failure, blindness, impotence and infections that can lead to amputations.

Cardiovascular disease is responsible for between 50% and 80% of deaths in people with diabetes. Diabetes has become one of the major causes of premature illness and death in most countries, mainly through the increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, amputation and kidney failure.

Lack of awareness about diabetes, combined with insufficient access to health services and essential medicines, can lead to complications such as blindness, amputation and kidney failure.

A large proportion of diabetes cases are preventable. Simple lifestyle measures have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. Maintaining normal body weight, engaging in regular physical activity, and eating a healthy diet can reduce the risk of diabetes.

Diabetes is treatable. It can be controlled and managed to prevent complications. Increasing access to diagnosis, self-management education and affordable treatment are vital components in combatting this disease.

Source: For additional information on diabetes and the goal for this year’s World Health Day, please visit

resized logo