Saturday, 14 November 2020 20:01

World Diabetes Day 2020 The message of WHO Country Representative, Iraq Dr Adham Ismail

Baghdad, Iraq, 14 November 2020: Today, Iraq joins the international community to commemorate World Diabetes Day to raise awareness of this chronic disease. This is important because more than 13.9% of Adults People in Iraq live with diabetes, and many do not know that they have the disease.

More and more people with diabetes are at higher risk of severe illness when infected with COVID-19 in Iraq. Diabetes is the second cause of mortality in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Iraq after cardial vascular diseases, making those with the disease more vulnerable to the severe effects of the virus. This calls for more awareness of the dangers of this disease and how people can significantly reduce the effects of diabetes on the Iraqi people's health.

It’s important to remember that when people with diabetes contract COVID-19, it may become harder to treat it due fluctuations in blood glucose levels and possible presence of diabetes complications. The immune system gets compromised making it harder to fight the COVID-19 virus, this is likely to lead to a longer recovery period.

This year, the theme of World Diabetes Day 2020 is “the nurse and diabetes.” Nurses play an essential role in providing lifelong care for people with diabetes, including screening, regular check-ups, psychological support, and information on self-management and healthy living. According to the 2019 Annual Statistical Report, , nurses make up more than half of the health workforce in Iraq, but they often have heavy workloads, with an average of 22.5 nurses and midwives per 10,000 people.

At WHO, we are working with health authorities to provide Diabetes screening services , essential health care package , counselling and treatment at primary health care levels and to expand access to services to prevent and manage diabetes using the WHO Package of Essential Noncommunicable Disease Interventions (WHO PEN) for Primary Health Care Centres (PHCCs) in Low-Resource Settings and other technical packages. Iraq has adapted WHO PEN protocols and rolled out it nationwide by training health Iraq wide.

More than 80% PHCCs in Iraq provide hypertension and diabetes screening, 50% of them provide essential non communicable diseases (NCD) health care package and 40% provide counselling and treatment with the goal of halting the rise of diabetes by year 2030 as part of NCD action plan to SDGs.
In the longer term, as the prevalence of diabetes increases in Iraq, more investment is needed to include non-communicable diseases in essential health services to raise the priority accorded to NCD in the national developmental plan and to integrate prevention and control at national level and to ensure a constant supply of essential medicines like insulin.
Nurses and other health workers need to be enabled to play their roles in diabetes prevention and management, including being provided with training, equipment, and service conditions that create a conducive work environment.
We can all take action to prevent diabetes by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including avoiding sugary drinks, processed foods, tobacco, and alcohol, and doing around three hours of physical activity every week, like walking, dancing, or playing sport. Everyone should also be aware of early symptoms of diabetes (excessive urination and thirst, constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes, and fatigue) and seek care promptly.
Together we can beat diabetes!

For more information, please contact:
Pauline Ajello, Communications Officer, +964 7729 877 288, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Ajyal Sultani, Communications Officer, +964 7740 892 878, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Ms Baraa Shaba, Communications Officer, +964 780 001 0244, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Note to Editors: Diabetes occurs when a person is unable to make enough insulin (type 1) or to use the insulin the pancreas produces (type 2), leading to high levels of blood sugar. Risk factors for diabetes include being overweight and physically inactive or having a family history of the disease. If left unmanaged, diabetes can result in severe complications, including kidney failure, stroke, lower-limb amputations, and blindness. Besides, for millions of low-income households, the costs of accessing lifelong care for diabetes and other non-communicable diseases can push families into poverty.

Additional Info

  • Agency: WHO

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