A Long Way From Beating Diabetes

I felt like the words “prevention,” complications” and “type 2” were thrown at me for much of yesterday’s diabetes themed World Health Day. The purpose of World Health Day was to raise awareness around diabetes, and promote good management. Yet I felt that much of what I saw on social media did little to achieve this.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 2.53.14 PM

I was disappointed to see so much coverage focussed on diabetes complications, its cost and its impact on society. What World Health Day lacked for me, was that element of how we people with diabetes manage with this condition day to day. I didn’t see a lot that reflected the wonderful campaign posters that I praised yesterday. Those elements, in my eyes, are how we raise awareness. Those elements are how we make people better understand the day to day management of this condition, and motivate them to live healthier lifestyles.

One story which did achieve this, albeit with more of a type 1 focus, was a DOC connection Lydia Parkhurst from the UK. Check out her fantastic article here.

It was also encouraging to read this quote from Diabetes Australia CEO Greg Johnson, yet disappointing that the issue didn’t receive more attention at the same time.

“The epidemic continues to grow at alarming rates affecting all nations of the world [but] disadvantaged people and poorer people in our communities are much more affected by diabetes.”

The theme of World Health Day was “beat diabetes,” yet the sad reality is that people in developing countries are unable to do so. People in disadvantaged areas of the world are unable to access life saving insulin, blood glucose test strips and basic healthcare. In a country where I take all of these items for granted, we really need to be focussing our efforts on more equal access for others. I strongly urge you to check out T1International for some eye opening insights and join the Insulin 4 All campaign.

To quote some of my words from last November, I’m a bit sick of the media associating diabetes with all of those “lifestyle” factors. Yes, obesity is an issue. Yes, inactivity is an issue. Yes, they’re epidemics, along with diabetes. Yes, in some cases they can be prevented. And yes, we need to work to halt them.

And we can. Independently of each other.

Why can’t we promote healthy diets and active lifestyles, without bringing the words “causes diabetes” into the mix? Wouldn’t it lead to the same outcome? We’d be working towards haulting those epidemics, without stigmatising the people who are already living with chronic conditions.

People living with diabetes would feel motivated and empowered to manage their condition through a healthy lifestyle. And at the same time we’d be encouraging people at risk of developing these conditions to adopt healthier lifestyles.

The only difference?

People already living with diabetes wouldn’t be stigmatised. They wouldn’t have to hear demoralising messages that blame and shame them.

Truth be told, nobody chooses ANY type of diabetes. Except for the health care providers, researchers, advocates and donors who are trying to make sense of, and solve it. Each and every single day.

We have a long way to go in order to truly “beat” diabetes.

Leave a Reply