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For World Diabetes Day, Professor Andrew Boulton of the International Diabetes Federation explains the importance of nurses in managing the condition

Global diabetes prevalence is rising, with one-in-11 (463 million) adults currently living with the condition worldwide. Nurses play a key role in helping people with diabetes understand and manage their condition. However, the global shortfall of 5.9 million nurses is leaving many without the care they need. People either living with diabetes or at risk of developing type 2 diabetes may be unable to avoid life-changing complications – such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, loss of sight and limb amputation.

Nurses are vital in supporting people living with diabetes. They and the person they support are often the most important people involved in diabetes care. Nurses not only help to administer medication, such as life-saving insulin, but also offer important health and psychological advice to help people tackle the daily challenges that a life-long chronic condition can bring. Moreover, they are often the ones who build the community support networks that many with diabetes rely on for guidance and reassurance.

Nurses provide valuable dietary and lifestyle advice to help people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes to help reduce their risk and nurses play an important role in raising awareness of the warning signs and symptoms to help ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Education is the cornerstone of healthcare. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) advocates for sharing diabetes information and best practice widely to provide health professionals with the understanding and skills to provide optimal care and support for people with diabetes.

As part of this year’s WDD campaign, nurses and healthcare professionals can freely access the IDF School of Diabetes course on the role of the diabetes educator until the end of the year. The course is certified by the European Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (EACMME), with participants earning an EACCME credit and a course certificate.

It is critical for governments and healthcare systems to recognise the growing global impact of diabetes. Nurses are a key component of the response to the associated challenges. However, they will only be able to fully perform their role with sufficient investment in education, training and recruitment.

We are approaching the centenary of the discovery of insulin, on which many people with diabetes depend to manage their diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes need insulin to survive. It is imperative that the next steps to tackle the global diabetes pandemic deliver real change to ensure that people with diabetes receive the support they require to manage their diabetes and avoid its associated life-changing complications.

Prof. Andrew Boulton, President of the International Diabetes Federation

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