(MENAFN - Arab News) In observance of World Diabetes Day, Saudi Arabia is joining the World Health Organization (WHO) today in a series of interactive programs, aiming to raise awareness about the disease and highlight preventative measures.
An official from the Ministry of Health told Arab News that this year's slogan is: "Protect people from diabetes."
The WHO diabetes program aims to prevent diabetes whenever possible and, when it is not possible, it strives to minimize complications and maximize the quality of life for diabetic patients. "Our core functions are to set norms and standards, promote surveillance, encourage prevention, raise awareness and strengthen prevention and control," the MOH official added.
Initiated by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and WHO, World Diabetes Day is celebrated on November 14th, to mark the birthday of Frederick Banting, who, along with Charles Best, was a significant figure in the discovery of insulin in 1922, a life-saving treatment for diabetes patients.
WHO estimates that more than 346 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, and this figure will most probably double by 2030, if the necessary precautions are not taken.
According to the latest local statistics 28 percent of Saudi people over the age of 30, are diabetics, while the percentage of people with diabetes in the overall society is around 14.1 percent.
An official from the center for media information and health education at the Ministry of Health said diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin, or when the body does not use the insulin it produces. Hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body's systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels.
Diabetes can cause severe damage to the heart and blood vessels, kidneys, nerves, as well as increasing the risk of heart disease and strokes, and contributes to diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness, which occurs as a result of long-term accumulated damage in the small blood vessels in the retina.
The MOH official pointed out that diabetes is preventable with simple measures, such as healthy weight, physical exercise and consumption of health non-processed food.
Diabetic patients with questions concerning this disease can contact the MOH's social networking site on Twitter @ saudimoh, to get details on prevention and treatment of the disease.