The Fight Against Diabetes


SEATTLE, Washington — As the years go on, more and more nations are becoming industrialized.  While rapid urbanization can be a good thing for developing countries in terms of reducing poverty, it also leads to a sharp rise in the number of diabetes cases. In response to this trend, many organizations are stepping up in the fight against diabetes.

Diabetes and Poverty: The Facts

There are two different types of diabetes. Characteristics of type 1 diabetes are the body’s complete inability to create insulin. Type 2 diabetes is marked by the body not positively responding to insulin and eventually not being able to generate enough insulin. Both types of diabetes share similar symptoms, including constant dehydration, abnormally frequent urination, blurred vision, extreme lethargy and wounds that won’t heal correctly.

Diabetes was once considered a problem that only occurred in predominantly rich nations. However, since 1980, the global prevalence of diabetes in adults has risen from 4.7 percent to 8.5 percent. Furthermore, the commonality of diabetes has increased at a much quicker rate in middle and low-income nations than in high-income nations.

Several factors are to blame for the sharp increase in low to middle-income diabetes. One such factor is that poor workers are switching from physically exhaustive labor to more sedentary forms of work.  Diabetes and poverty are also intrinsically linked together. People in the grip of extreme poverty often find themselves unable to afford healthy food that can help reduce the prevalence of diabetes. Extreme poverty also limits access to insulin and test strips needed to treat diabetes as the price of these materials can outweigh the average income of an individual living in poverty.

The Fight Against Diabetes

As diabetes has become increasingly common across the world, more groups have been stepping up in the fight against diabetes. One such group is the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO has created concrete steps for countries and NGOs to follow in its Global Action Plan. Some guidelines from the 2013-2020 Global Action Plan include:

    • Creating programs that focus on spreading information on diabetes management and prevention
    • Encouraging countries across the globe to create diabetes commissions that can focus on resource management and garner political support for the cause
    • Using a combination of government policies and the creation of environments designed for physical activities to keep people from becoming obese
    • Coming up with strategies focused on ensuring children are active and eating nutritious food 


WHO is not the only organization working towards improved diabetes care. The World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) has been hard at work stemming the tide of diabetes around the world. Between 2002 and 2018, WDF supported projects have been enacted that helped train 129,868 doctors, 96,505 nurses and 185,889 other healthcare professionals. During this time, WDF’s projects have also led to the treatment of 8.4 million patients around the world.

Tackling diabetes and poverty together is no small feat. Still, with groups like WDF and WHO providing support and guidelines to at-risk communities, diabetes can be a disease that people of any nation can successfully manage.

Ryan Holman
Photo: Flickr


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