It’s time for the world to take action on diabetes

Three women suffering from diabetes stand in the snow in Kyrgyzstan.

This World Health Day Age International is joining with older campaigners in more than 50 countries to call for diabetes – a leading cause of death in low and ‘middle-income’ countries – to be tackled through screening, testing, treatment and education.

At least 9% of the world’s adults have diabetes with at least 1.5 million people dying as a result of the condition.

On World Health Day older campaigners around the world will join together to draw attention to this serious issue. Amongst other things, older campaigners will hand out information on diabetes at a ‘walk for your health’ event in the Gambia, join a flash mob to draw attention to the impact of diabetes in Russia, and take part in a mini-marathon, pledging to stay active in Bangladesh.

‘We need to see greater awareness of this disease’

‘Three-quarters of people with diabetes live in low and middle income countries, so although we often associate diabetes as a disease of wealth, that really isn’t the case,’ said Chris Roles, Managing Director of Age International.

‘Type 2 diabetes is especially prevalent amongst older people, but in countries such as Kyrgyzstan the struggles continue – both to manage the condition or even to receive a diagnosis. Without treatment, older people have a higher risk of developing serious complications like heart attacks, kidney failure, blindness and amputations as a result.’

‘Lifestyle can also contribute to the risk of diabetes in older age, and efforts should be made to include people of all ages in prevention programmes.’

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Older people in Kyrgyzstan meet to share their experiences of diabetes.

‘We just want what we deserve, to age happily.’

Anna suffers from diabetes, ‘I would like vital medicines for diabetes and glaucoma to be included in the doctor’s lists of discounted drugs for older people.’

‘I really enjoy taking part in the yearly flash mob and march. It gives me a feeling that I am not alone, there are so many of us,’ explains 62-year-old Anna.  ‘The messages we send on that day to our government and the ministry of health are very important as we want to see positive changes to improve the lives of older people in Kyrgyzstan.’

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