Every year, the World Health Organization selects a priority area of global public health concern as the theme for World Health Day, which falls on 7 April, the birthday of the Organization.
The theme for World Health Day 2016 was diabetes, a noncommunicable disease (NCD) directly impacting millions of people of globally, mostly in low- and middle-income countries.
Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose which may over time lead to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. The prevalence of diabetes has been steadily increasing in the past few decades, in particular in low- and middle-income countries. Knowledge exists to reverse this trend through targeted prevention and appropriate care.
But diabetes – the main forms of which are type 1 and type 2 diabetes – is not just a health issue.
Diabetes and its complications bring about substantial economic loss to people with diabetes and their families, and to health systems and national economies through direct medical costs and loss of work and wages.
Working to prevent, detect and treat diabetes is also critical to development. Within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Governments have set an ambitious target to reduce premature mortality from NCDs – including diabetes – by one third; achieve universal health coverage; and provide access to affordable essential medicines – all by 2030.
Diabetes is one of four priority NCDs targeted by world leaders in the 2011 Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of NCDs and the SDGs 2016-2030. The Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013-2020 provides a roadmap and menu of policy options to attain nine voluntary global targets, including an additional target to halt the rise in diabetes and obesity by 2025.