According to the International Diabetes Federation, more than 371 million people worldwide are living with diabetes. Although there are several distinct subtypes of diabetes, the condition is characterized by heightened levels of glucose, or blood sugar. Diabetes is particularly prevalent in North America, with around 38 million people living with the condition in Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. As many as 29 percent of people with diabetes in North America are undiagnosed. For these and other reasons, the IDF has designated Nov. 14 World Diabetes Day.
Although diabetes is prevalent in many developed countries, it also poses a serious risk to the health of children in need and their families in developing nations. We often associate diabetes with overeating, particularly food that isn't good for us, but the condition is also growing more common in Africa, even in countries that sometimes suffer from food shortages.
In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 15 million people have diabetes, but perhaps more alarming is the fact than more than 80 percent of cases go undiagnosed. In addition, the IDF predicts that the number of reported cases of diabetes in the region will double during the next 20 years. Right now, the mortality rate from diabetes is highest in sub-Saharan Africa because of lack of treatment.
World Diabetes Day is recognized by more than 200 member organizations of the IDF and aims to promote awareness of this condition through televised campaigns, newspaper and magazine articles, fundraising events and heightened recognition by local and national governments.
Each World Diabetes Day adheres to a theme, and this year's focuses on education and prevention. Both type one and type two of diabetes can cause potentially fatal health complications, but the symptoms can be effectively treated by medications. Diet changes also lessen the risks of diabetes and can even cure it in some cases. However, many families living in developing nations lack access to these treatments and healthy foods, which leaves them at risk of serious symptoms and even death.
ChildFund works in some of the poorest countries in the world, and we also operate in many communities across the United States, including Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota and South Dakota. Diabetes is prevalent in these states, particularly among the poor, and many children remain at risk of diabetes-related health conditions.
One of the best ways you can help ChildFund provide a child living in poverty with the medicines he or she needs, as well as healthy food, is by becoming a child sponsor. For just $28 per month, you can ensure that a boy or girl receives the nutritious food, health care and educational opportunities he or she needs to live healthy and happily.