05 November 2006

November is National Diabetes Month

I never knew that November could contain anything else other than NaNoWriMo, but it is also National Diabetes Month. The American Diabetes Association has information on their website. 14 November is World Diabetes Day.

Many people think that Diabetes is a Western country problem, caused by bad lifestyle and obesity - but it's growing in incidence and prevalence in Thailand and Laos and has become an epidemic in India. In Asia, people almost feel they've 'made it' if they have this disease of the rich; with the emphasis in primary health care on diarrhea and malnutrition, most developing countries do not treat the problem seriously. On the World Diabetes Day website, there's information on the Indigenous Diabetes Forum in Australia as well as an online journal with fascinating articles.

This is useful information for me because I hope to get an informal CME series going in one of the province hospitals I've been working in. People tell me that there is no diabetes here - yet I'm sure there are many reasons for the lack of number of people with the diagnosis - low index of suspicion, not understanding how it can present so doctors are not ordering the tests; people are probably dying from complications of diabetes but they are diagnosed with something else.

Along with another growing problem, trauma (from motor vehicle accidents, armed conflict, post-conflict states and availability of small arms being the biggies), diabetes is increasingly become an important cause of mortality and morbidity. In developing countries, primary care addresses important childhood diseases, diarrhea, acute respiratory tract infections, malnutrition, etc. These are important but trauma, diabetes, CVD are examples of non-communicable diseases which mostly affect adults - and if the caretakers are killed or sick because of these, the whole family is affected.

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