World Diabetes Day 2020

This year has been nothing short of bittersweet. While COVID-19 has caused devastation globally, the united will to overcome this deadly pandemic has been unprecedented.

Today marks World Diabetes Day, created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat posed by diabetes.

The growing “double burden” of infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is concerning: infectious diseases have been found to worsen NCDs and vice versa. With over 450 million people living with diabetes globally and 79% of adults with diabetes living in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), this is an issue we simply cannot ignore. In fact, 1 in 2 people with diabetes were undiagnosed in 2019.

Over the last 12 months, FIND has been collaborating with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to investigate diagnostic gaps that are compounding the double burden, with a focus on both humanitarian settings and primary care in LMICs. Our work with ICRC aims to address NCD challenges by making tools suitable for point-of-care management of diabetes and other cardiometabolic disorders simpler and more accessible. We are also addressing market challenges by securing preferential prices for tests for diabetes (and other NCDs) in LMICs, in collaboration with manufacturers. Find out more in our recent blog with ICRC.

FIND is joining the global conversation on access to insulin in LMICs to bolster mounting efforts to strengthen access to much-needed diagnostic devices for diabetes. The International Alliance for Diabetes Action, Life for a Child, and Health Action International’s  ACCISS Study, in collaboration with University of Geneva, are among our key partnerships as we strive to improve access to self-monitoring tools for people living with diabetes.

As a result of this exploratory work, FIND is now actively pursuing NCD workstreams, expanding access to NCD tools that are urgently needed to close the diagnostic gap and enable ongoing management for every patient – particularly those in vulnerable populations.

It’s a familiar refrain: COVID-19 and subsequent lockdowns have made access to timely testing even more complex. Studies have shown that people with diabetes are at increased risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19, and that diabetes is more frequent in patients with severe COVID-19. For undiagnosed diabetes patients with COVID-19, the situation is grave.

With the theme for World Diabetes Day 2020 being “the Nurse and Diabetes”, it seems fitting to draw attention to the fact that around 90% of the nursing workforce is female, making women critical front-line warriors in the prevention and management of diabetes and many other diseases. Earlier this week we launched a report with Women in Global Health and Women Political Leaders that highlights how testing can empower women, and empowering women can increase testing – and better health – for all.