World Health Day 2016

World Health Day 2016

World Health Day 2016

For World Health Day on April 7th, we're discussing the increased prevalence of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among older people around the world.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease and there are two forms.
Type 1 diabetes is caused by the pancreas not producing enough insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is caused when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces - this is called insulin resistance.
Insulin regulates blood sugar and gives us the energy that we need to live. This means a harmful level of sugar builds up in our blood without insulin.

Data on diabetes in older people

At least 9% of the world's adults have diabetes, with 80% of the annual 1.5 million diabetes deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries.

Type 2 diabetes in particular is more prevalent in ageing populations; however, data is limited on how exactly older people are affected. Information is limited because most studies on diabetes do not include older people.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals require that each member, "ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages". The goals include a target on reducing mortality from non-communicable diseases.

Without data on older people with diabetes it is impossible for development groups, and local/regional governments to support the UN requirements. This information will be crucial for future efforts to reduce the effects of NCDs.

What do we need?

Screening, testing, treatment and education should be available for all at the primary healthcare level in order to prevent and manage diabetes, including in older age. Learn more here. 
Integrated care: a people-centred, integrated approach is needed to ensure older people's right to health is protected, including through access to diabetes related services
Data: what gets measured gets done - national and international data collection mechanisms and indicators on diabetes must include people of all ages, and data must be disaggregated by age and sex at a minimum
Monitor progress: all governments around the world have to respond to the UN on their progress in tackling NCDs, including diabetes, in 2018
Global commitments on NCDs, including diabetes, must be translated into local action - the voices of older activists must be heard in this process

What can you do?

Raising awareness is just as crucial as actual health programs. Join HelpAge in raising awareness by sharing this fact sheet on social media and using hashtags: #diabetes, #WHD2016, or #BeatNCDs!