By Amina Nazarli
November 14 is marked as World Diabetes Day and millions of people around the world come together to raise awareness of diabetes on this day.
Some 422 million people in the world now live with diabetes. The disease shortens lives and, if not managed, can cause severe complications such as amputations, strokes or kidney failure. Diabetes also has devastating impacts on household budgets and national economies.
In Azerbaijan, some 212,577 people are registered with diabetes, 28,924 of which are patients with type 1 diabetes, and 183,653 - type 2.
Deputy Director of the Republican Endocrinology Center, Babek Salek said that 1,150 out of the total number of patients with type 1 diabetes are children and 99 percent of them are insulin-dependent.
Salek said that the number of people suffering with diabetes is expected to reach 642 million in the world by 2040.
"The number of patients is growing and getting younger. Today more than 500,000 children suffer from type I diabetes in the world. Previously, type 2 diabetes occurred among people aged 45-50 years, but situation has changed. The disease can be detected even in a year-old child," he said.
Some 46.5 percent of people do not know about their illness, according to the doctor.
Diabetes is a leading cause of poor eyesight and blindness worldwide. Because the changes are painless and gradual, people often only realize they have a problem when their eyesight finally begins to fail. At that point, it can be too late to improve or restore vision.
The UN message on World Diabetes Day reads that it is therefore vital that all people with diabetes have their eyes examined regularly by trained personnel who know what to look for and who can provide advice and treatment. If people can control blood glucose levels and blood pressure, they can reduce the risk of changes in blood vessels. And even when changes do occur, it is possible to slow down the process with timely treatment.
“Each year, diabetes becomes more common, mainly due to aging populations and the rise of obesity. Its prevalence has nearly doubled in the past 35 years, with the increase greatest in low- and middle-income countries.
On this international day, let us keep our “Eyes on Diabetes”. Let us focus both on prevention and strengthening health services so that everyone who has this debilitating disease can receive the support he or she needs,” the UN message reads.