World Diabetes Day 2020: The nurse and diabetes

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organisation in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat posed by diabetes.

World Diabetes Day became an official United Nations Day in 2006 with the passage of United Nation Resolution 61/225. It is marked every year on 14 November, the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who co-discovered insulin along with Charles Best in 1922.

On the occasion of the WHO declared International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, the Maltese Diabetes Association joins the IDF in dedicating World Diabetes Day 2020 to the importance of nurses in the diagnosis, management, and prevention of diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects more than 463 million adults worldwide – including an estimated 40,500 people in Malta aged 20 to 79 years (IDF Diabetes Atlas – 9th Edition).

Insufficient access to diabetes care and treatment often results in life-threatening complications, which, according to IDF estimates, are responsible for 4.2 million adult deaths every year. Despite diabetes being a global health threat that incurs high levels of expenditure each year (USD 760 billion in 2019), millions of people with diabetes cannot afford the care and medicines they need. Many are pushed into poverty to cover the healthcare costs for family members.

Nurses play a key role in identifying and diagnosing diabetes early, tackling the risk factors for type 2 diabetes and providing self-management training and psychological support to help prevent diabetes-related complications.

According to the World Health Organisation, 9 million more nurses are needed globally if we want to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030. If this gap is not urgently addressed, many of the 578 million people who will be living with diabetes by then will not have access to the care they will need.

In the run-up to World Diabetes Day on the 14th November, the Maltese Diabetes Association and IDF are requesting national governments to recognize and advance the role of nurses in diabetes care by:

• Ensuring the quality of nursing education (including by providing them with training in diabetes);
• Investing in the recruitment and the retention of nurses;
• Maximising the contribution of nurses in providing preventative and primary care.

“The association pays tribute to all nurses, in particular those working as Diabetes nurses. The role of the diabetes nurse is becoming increasingly important in managing the impact of the condition. Nurses are often the first and sometimes only health professional that a person interacts with and so the quality of their initial assessment, care and treatment is vital”, the association said.

In the current prevailing circumstances due to Covid-19, the Maltese Diabetes Association also urges the government to ensure that all the necessary mitigation measures are taken to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our nation, especially those living with chronic conditions like diabetes.

“These are challenging and unprecedented times which require challenging and urgent measures to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 in our community. Unfortunately, there often conflicting messages that are being given, at times diluting the gravity of the Covid-19 situation in Malta. We need to work collectively as a community to fight Covid-19, by first and foremost acting responsibly; by rigorously following the instructions and guidelines given by the Health Authorities and by taking good care of our health and that of others”, said Chris J. Delicata, President of the Maltese Diabetes Association.,
“Our front liners, doctors, health care professionals are doing a wonderful job, at times beyond their call of duty. We can truly show our appreciation by acting responsibly. “ concluded Delicata.