This past Sunday marked World Diabetes Day commemorated each year on the 14th of November, originally launched in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organisation in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat posed by diabetes. The theme for World Diabetes Day 2021-23 is access to diabetes care.
100 years after the discovery of insulin, millions of people with diabetes around the world cannot access the care they need. People with diabetes require ongoing care and support to manage their condition and avoid micro and macro-vascular complications. The centenary of the discovery of insulin presents a unique opportunity to bring about meaningful change for the more than 460 million people living with diabetes and the millions more at risk.
Diabetes is the second leading cause of death in South Africa and a significant contributor to healthcare resource utilisation. “Worldwide, diabetes has reached pandemic proportions. Diabetes is a serious, potentially debilitating, and life-threatening non-communicable disease that can impose a substantial impact on individuals and their families, as well as on healthcare systems and national economies” says Kiolan Naidoo, Sanofi Diabetes Medical Advisor.
By 2045, more than 700 million people are expected to be living with diabetes globally and much of the increase within the next few years are expected to occur in low- and middle-income countries. Approximately half of people estimated to be living with diabetes remain undiagnosed, this is approximately a population of 232 million. “Left untreated with insulin, type 1 diabetes is fatal. When people with type 2 diabetes go untreated or are not sufficiently supported, they are at risk of serious and life-threatening complications such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and lower-limb amputation” continues Kiolan Naidoo.
We are living in challenging times in which people with diabetes are facing an additional major health threat. Regretfully, we have seen that people living with diabetes can be more susceptible to the worst complications of Covid-19. The evidence suggests fatalities are markedly higher among people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes.
This is particularly the case among the elderly (an estimated one in five people over the age of 65 have diabetes) and when diabetes is not under control. A global concern is that the current situation may lead to an increase in diabetes complications over the coming years. Moreover, we should worry that the legacy of the pandemic will see resources and attention focused on infectious diseases to the detriment of all non-communicable diseases, including diabetes.
SANOFI is dedicated to bringing our patients novel pharmaceutical treatments, educational solutions, and patient support programs to aid them in their quest to a healthy, full life.
Diabetes is a chronic disease, which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin, it produces. This leads to an increased concentration of glucose in the blood (hyperglycaemia). Type 1 diabetes which was known as insulin-dependent is characterized by a lack of insulin production (occurs mainly with children). Type 2 diabetes which was formerly known as non-insulin-dependent is caused by the body’s ineffective use of insulin which often results from excess body weight and physical inactivity (Occurs mainly with adults). Gestational diabetes is hyperglycaemia that is first recognized during pregnancy.
Symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, hunger, people should also look out for prediabetes, this is when the blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes, symptoms for this include blurry vision, cold hands, and feet, excessive thirst and excessive urination. 
To learn more about diabetes click
 IDF. (2021). Key messages | World Diabetes Day. International Diabetes Federation. https://worlddiabetesday.org/about/key-messages/
-  Pillay et al. Persistent burden from non-communicable diseases in South Africa needs strong action. SAMJ 2016;106:436-437.
 International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas, 9th edn. Brussels, Belgium: 2019. Available at: https://www.diabetesatlas.org
 IDF. (2021). If not now, when? | Insulin at 100. International Diabetes Federation. https://insulinat100.org/if-not-now-when/
 WHO. (2021). Diabetes. World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes