Trying to raise diabetes awareness, while also providing an accurate representation of people with diabetes, is a fine balance.
Diabetes is serious business. 350 million people are living with diabetes worldwide, and evidence suggests that this number is only growing. In 2012, diabetes was the direct cause of 1.5 million deaths. 80% of these deaths occurred in low or middle income countries, where access to basic healthcare and insulin is not equal. Many cases of diabetes are preventable or manageable. So, yes, I realise that it’s important to help raise awareness. I am all for raising awareness.
However, I also feel that it is equally important for our campaigns to accurately represent diabetes and the people living with it. Sadly, I feel that many campaigns have become too caught up in the scare tactics and the consequences of diabetes. As a person living with diabetes, these campaigns are a reflection on me, whether I like it or not. For the many people who are not affected by diabetes and don’t hear a lot about it, these campaigns are very impressionable. These campaigns can lead to misunderstandings and stigma.
I am more than the dark colours, the images of diabetes complications and sadness that is often portrayed in diabetes campaigns. I am a human being who is living with diabetes. I have always tried to portray through this blog how I live with diabetes, and not the other way around. Diabetes certainly hasn’t stopped me from finishing uni, travelling, working, using technology, enjoying good food, television shows, music and everything else that I wanted from life at age 17.
I can’t say that I would have a cause I feel so strongly about if it weren’t for my diabetes. I can’t say that I would be pursuing my love of writing through this blog if it weren’t for diabetes. Those are added bonuses.
Today marks World Health Day, and this year’s campaign has been dedicated to…wait for it…DIABETES.
The World Health Day website and fact sheets rightly trump the statistics and the seriousness of diabetes in the world.
The campaign posters, on the other hand, are bright and colourful and simple. They simply show the things that we people with diabetes….do. What a lot of healthy people already do, regardless. Eating. Attending checkups. Visiting the pharmacy. Being social, and being active.
I don’t think I could possibly ask anything more of a diabetes campaign.
Want to do something meaningful today? Head onto social media, share a genuine account of life with diabetes, and hashtag it #diabetes. Mentally picture your post thwarting another one in the #diabetes feed about cures, reversing diabetes or cinnamon! Bliss!