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Le diabète, la recherche et l'accompagnement.

Diabetes, Research and Support

World Health Day 2016: Let’s beat diabetes

Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO



6 April 2016


WHO will celebrate its birthday on 7 April 2016 - World Health Day. But this year, not with cake. The traditional birthday cake will be replaced by healthier options, like fruit, and a call to action to tackle diabetes.



Diabetes ─ long perceived as a disease of the affluent ─ is on the rise everywhere and is now most common in developing countries. Its impact is felt by individuals, families, communities and national economies, yet much of its burden is avoidable.


The statistics speak for themselves. The number of people living with diabetes and its prevalence are growing in all regions of the world. In 2014, 422 million adults (or 8.5% of the population) had diabetes, compared with 108 million (4.7%) in 1980. Diabetes is rising fastest in the world’s low- and middle-income countries. In 2012, diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths. Higher-than-optimal blood glucose levels caused an additional 2.2 million deaths, by increasing the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases.

Poorly controlled diabetes can cause complications including heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, blindness, and foot ulcers than can lead to amputations. Many of these complications, and these premature deaths, could be prevented. The technologies and medicines to enable people with diabetes to live healthy lives exist, yet still do not reach those who need them.

Diabetes is a disease characterised by elevated blood glucose levels. Most people with diabetes have the type 2 form of the disease, which is largely caused by unhealthy eating and lack of physical activity. Staggeringly, today more than one in three adults is overweight and more than one in 10 is obese. Type 1 diabetes, which most commonly affects children and adolescents and requires daily insulin for survival, is currently not preventable.


At the World Health Assembly in 2013, governments committed to halt the rise of diabetes by 2025, but we are clearly not on track. Policies are needed to improve people’s access to affordable, healthy foods and to opportunities for physical activity, to influence patterns of diet and physical activity across whole populations. A combination of fiscal policies, legislation, changes to the environment and raising awareness of health risks works best for promoting healthier diets and physical activity. Such measures will also benefit people living with diabetes and reduce risk of complications.


Governments have also committed, most recently in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases including diabetes. People with diabetes can live long and healthy lives if their disease is detected and well-managed. WHO’s Global report on diabetes, released today, shows that governments around the world have begun to act, but much more concerted action is needed.


Access to essential medicines and technologies for diabetes is frighteningly inadequate in low- and middle-income countries, where most people with diabetes live. For example, blood glucose and urine glucose measurement—basic technologies necessary for diagnosis and monitoring—are generally available in less than half of low-income countries, in contrast to more than 90% of high-income countries. Similarly, only 23% of low-income countries report that insulin is generally available in publicly-funded primary-care facilities, in contrast with 96% of high-income countries.


Preventing deaths and complications from diabetes requires access to affordable health-care services with equipment sufficient to diagnose and monitor diabetes; patient education to promote healthy diet, physical activity and self-care; essential medicines for diabetes management, including life-saving insulin; regular screening for complications and early treatment when they are found; and a referral system across various levels of health care.


Governments also need to invest in better monitoring of diabetes, including who is getting access to the treatment they need, and who is missing out.


Together, we can halt the rise in diabetes and provide care to improve quality of life for the millions of people living with the disease. Deliberate, effective responses are needed from government; health-care providers; civil society; producers of medicines, technologies and food; from people living with diabetes; and from each of us. Everyone has a role to play.


World Health Day 2016: WHO calls for global action to halt rise in and improve care for people with diabetes


First WHO Global report on diabetes: 422 million adults live with diabetes, mainly in developing countries

News release


6 APRIL 2016 | GENEVA - The number of people living with diabetes has almost quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults, with most living in developing countries. Factors driving this dramatic rise include overweight and obesity, WHO announced ahead of World Health Day.


WHO is marking its annual World Health Day (7 April), which celebrates the Organization’s founding in 1948, by issuing a call for action on diabetes. In its first “Global report on diabetes”, WHO highlights the need to step up prevention and treatment of the disease.

Health-promoting environments reduce risk factors

Measures needed include expanding health-promoting environments to reduce diabetes risk factors, like physical inactivity and unhealthy diets, and strengthening national capacities to help people with diabetes receive the treatment and care they need to manage their conditions.


“If we are to make any headway in halting the rise in diabetes, we need to rethink our daily lives: to eat healthily, be physically active, and avoid excessive weight gain,” says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “Even in the poorest settings, governments must ensure that people are able to make these healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose and treat people with diabetes.”

Diabetes is a chronic, progressive noncommunicable disease (NCD) characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose (blood sugar). It occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough of the insulin hormone, which regulates blood sugar, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.


Key findings from WHO’s “Global report on diabetes”


Among the key findings from the “Global report on diabetes” are:

•The number of people living with diabetes and its prevalence are growing in all regions of the world. In 2014, 422 million adults (or 8.5% of the population) had diabetes, compared with 108 million (4.7%) in 1980.

•The epidemic of diabetes has major health and socioeconomic impacts, especially in developing countries.

•In 2014, more than 1 in 3 adults aged over 18 years were overweight and more than one in 10 were obese.

•The complications of diabetes can lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation. For example, rates of lower limb amputation are 10 to 20 times higher for people with diabetes.

•Diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths in 2012. Higher-than-optimal blood glucose caused an additional 2.2 million deaths by increasing the risks of cardiovascular and other diseases.

•Many of these deaths (43%) occur prematurely, before the age of 70 years, and are largely preventable through adoption of policies to create supportive environments for healthy lifestyles and better detection and treatment of the disease.

•Good management includes use of a small set of generic medicines; interventions to promote healthy lifestyles; patient education to facilitate self-care; and regular screening for early detection and treatment of complications.


Global commitments to reduce diabetes

“Many cases of diabetes can be prevented, and measures exist to detect and manage the condition, improving the odds that people with diabetes live long and healthy lives,” says Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for NCDs and Mental Health. “But change greatly depends on governments doing more, including by implementing global commitments to address diabetes and other NCDs.”

These include meeting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 3.4, which calls for reducing premature death from NCDs, including diabetes, by 30% by 2030. Governments have also committed to achieving 4 time-bound national commitments set out in the 2014 UN General Assembly “Outcome Document on Noncommunicable Diseases”, and attaining the 9 global targets laid out in the WHO “Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs”, which include halting the rise in diabetes and obesity.


“Around 100 years after the insulin hormone was discovered, the “Global report on diabetes” shows that essential diabetes medicines and technologies, including insulin, needed for treatment are generally available in only 1 in 3 of the world’s poorest countries,” says Dr Etienne Krug, Director of WHO’s Department for the Management of NCDs, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention. “Access to insulin is a matter of life or death for many people with diabetes. Improving access to insulin and NCD medicines in general should be a priority.”


Global efforts are underway to make medicines, including for NCDs, more available and affordable. Commitments from world leaders, including the SDGs, the 2011 “UN Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases”, the 2014 UN General Assembly “Outcome Document on Noncommunicable Diseases”, and the work of the UN Secretary-General’s high-level p

anel on access to essential medicines are aimed at improving affordability and availability of essential drugs for people living with diabetes.


Note to editors


There are three main forms of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. The cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown and people living with it require daily insulin administration for survival. Type 2 accounts for the vast majority of people living with diabetes globally, and is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity. Once seen only in adults, type 2 diabetes is now increasingly occurring in children and young people. Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition that occurs in pregnancy and carries long-term risk of type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes is present when blood glucose values are above normal but still below those diagnostic of diabetes.


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