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Understanding Diabetes 2020 Q4

Why nurses are crucial in the fight against diabetes

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Professor Andrew Boulton

President, International Diabetes Federation

Nurses are at the heart of global healthcare and this World Diabetes Day (WDD), the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is celebrating the vital role they play in supporting people with diabetes. 

The prevalence of diabetes globally

The prevalence of diabetes globally is rising, with one in 11 adults (463 million) currently living with the condition worldwide. 

Nurses play a key role in helping people with diabetes understand and manage their condition.  

However, the global shortfall of 5.9 million nurses is leaving many without the care they need. 

People either living with diabetes or at risk of developing type 2 diabetes may be unable to avoid life-changing complications – such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, loss of sight and limb amputation.

The nurse and diabetes care 

Nurses are vital in supporting people living with diabetes. They and the person they support are often the most important people involved in diabetes care.  

Nurses not only help to administer medication, such as life-saving insulin, but also offer important health and psychological advice to help people tackle the daily challenges that a life-long chronic condition can bring.  

Moreover, they are often the ones who build the community support networks that many with diabetes rely on for guidance and reassurance. 

Nurses provide valuable dietary and lifestyle advice to help people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes reduce their risk. They also play an important role in raising awareness of the warning signs and symptoms to help ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment. 

The global shortfall of 5.9 million nurses is leaving many without the care they need.

The importance of diabetes education 

Education is the cornerstone of healthcare. IDF advocates for sharing diabetes information and best practices widely. This would provide healthcare professionals with the understanding and skills to provide optimal care and support for people with diabetes.

It is time for urgent action 

It is critical for governments and healthcare systems to recognise the growing global impact of diabetes. Nurses are a key component of the response to the associated challenges.

However, they will only be able to fully perform their role with sufficient investment in education, training and recruitment. 

We are approaching the centenary of the discovery of insulin, on which many people with diabetes depend to manage their condition. People with type 1 diabetes need insulin to survive. 

It is imperative that the next steps, to tackle the global diabetes pandemic, deliver real change. We must ensure that people with diabetes receive the support they require for its management and avoid its associated life-changing complications.

As part of this year’s WDD campaign, nurses and healthcare professionals can freely access the IDF School of Diabetes course on the role of the diabetes educator until the end of the year. The course is certified by the European Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (EACCME), with participants earning an EACCME credit and a course certificate. 

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