World Diabetes Day is November 14. Created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization due to growing concerns about the escalating health threat posed by diabetes, World Diabetes Day became an official United Nations Day in 2006. It is marked each year on Nov. 14th because of the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who co-discovered insulin along with Charles Best in 1922. This year, the theme focuses on the need for better access to quality diabetes education for healthcare professionals and people living with diabetes.
With one in 10 adults around the world currently living with diabetes – an estimated 537 million people – this is a serious crisis. Charleston nonprofit, OneWorld Health, is working to address this problem. OneWorld Health works side by side with communities in need to build and run high-quality, low-cost healthcare facilities across Central America and East Africa.
Recognizing the lack of understanding about diabetes and the need for more education and information in these communities, OneWorld Health recently developed an innovative diabetes screener. This public health tool is now being used through telehealth to assess patients and to help identify people with undiagnosed diabetes as well as people at risk of developing diabetes. Patients may then be referred to get more testing and nutrition education. Through this screener, OneWorld Health is also working to build awareness of diabetes and its risk factors so that people in Nicaragua and Honduras can live healthier lives.
In addition to prevention and education, OneWorld Health medical centers are helping people day in and day out who are having complications from the disease. Recently, an older woman named Ana came into a OneWorld Health clinic in Nicaragua feeling very sick and disoriented. Her family members were worried about a stroke, but the providers wanted to dig deeper. When staff checked her skin, they could tell she was very dehydrated, and from her patient history, they knew she had diabetes. They gave her an IV for hydration and found that her blood sugar was very high. After lab tests, they discovered an intestinal parasite that caused the diarrhea that had dehydrated her. The dehydration affected her blood sugar, and the blood sugar had caused her disoriented state. After treatment, she was able to return home and is now doing well; however, without treatment, Ana’s situation could have quickly become very serious.
“Stories like Ana’s are why we do what we do,” said Executive Director Michael O’Neal. “Prior to this facility opening, most families in the area didn’t have access to quality, affordable care and wouldn’t have been able to seek medical treatment. Local, private healthcare systems are too expensive for much of the population, and public systems are overcrowded, underfunded, and lack the basic supplies for consistent care.”
In 13 years, OneWorld Health has built 19 healthcare facilities in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Uganda and has served more than 700,000 patients with plans to serve 3.6 million people by 2030 with quality, affordable healthcare. To learn more about Charleston nonprofit, OneWorld Health, and to see how you can get involved, visit: www.oneworldhealth.com.
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