World Diabetes Day 2017: ‘Women and Diabetes’


  • As the theme for 2017, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is on a mission to make people more aware about ‘Women and Diabetes’, especially those pregnant and how their newborn may be affected by the condition.

What is diabetes?

  • Diabetes is a disease caused by high levels of blood sugar (glucose) in body.
  • This can happen when body does not make insulin or does not use insulin correctly.


  • Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas, an organ near stomach.
  • Insulin helps the glucose from food get into a body’s cells for energy.
  • If a body does not make enough insulin, or does not use the insulin correctly, the glucose stays and builds up in blood.

What is the scenario of diabetes in India?

  • According to the official WHO data, India tops the list of countries with the highest number of diabetics.
  • China, America, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, Brazil, Italy and Bangladesh follow.
  • Moreover, around 47.3% of India’s 70 million diabetics are undiagnosed.
  • Consequently, the undiagnosed population has high blood glucose levels that, if left untreated, lead to complications such as blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and foot amputation.

What are the symptoms of diabetes in women?

  • Vaginal and Oral Infections: Overgrowth of a yeast called Candida albicanscauses vaginal and oral yeast infections.
  • When the infection is oral, a cottage cheese-like coating is seen on the tongue and the inside of the mouth.
  • Urinary Tract Infections: UTIs occur when bacteria gain access to the urinary tract, where they colonize and cause infection.
  • Poor Sexual Health: High levels of blood sugar often cause a condition calleddiabetic neuropathy.
  • This is a condition in which nerves lose their ability to effectively transmit signals between the organs and brain.
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a metabolic syndrome caused due to hormonal imbalance in the female body.
  • It affects fertility in women and causes irregular periods.

Common symptoms of diabetes for both men and women:

  • Excessive hunger or thirst,
  • Fatigue,
  • Frequent urination,
  • Cuts and wounds that heal slowly,
  • Recurrent chest / urinary infections,
  • Unexplained weight loss,
  • Blurred vision,
  • Headaches,
  • Reduced sensation in hands and feet,
  • Recurring skin infections and
  • Breath with sweet or fruity odor.

What are the measures to be taken for women with diabetes?

  • All women with diabetes should have access to pre-conception planning services to reduce risk during pregnancy.
  • All women and girls should have access to physical activity to have a healthy life.
  • Promoting opportunities for physical exercise especially in adolescent girls, particularly in developing countries, must be a priority for diabetes prevention.
  • For type 1 diabetes Screening for diabetes and GDM should be integrated into other maternal health services. As an early detection ensure better care for women and reduced maternal mortality.
  • Type 2 diabetes prevention strategies must focus on maternal health and nutrition and other health behaviours before and during pregnancy, as well as infant and early childhood nutrition.
  • Antenatal care visits during pregnancy must be optimized for health promotion in young women and early detection of diabetes and GDM.

What is National Programme Prevention and Control of Diabetes?

  • The Government of India has launched the on National Programme Prevention and Control of Diabetes, Cardiovascular diseases and Stroke (NPDCS) on 8thJanuary 2008.

Objectives of NPDCS:

  • Prevention and control of Non- Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
  • Awareness generation on lifestyle changes.
  • Early detection of NCDs.
  • Capacity building of health systems to tackle NCDs.

The following interventions are planned in the programme:

  • Health promotion and health education for the community;
  • early detection of persons with high levels of risk factors (at the risk of developing disease) through screening; and
  • strengthening health systems at all levels to tackle NCDs and improvement of quality of care including treatment of sleep disorders and augmenting facilities of dialysis.

What is International Diabetes Federation?

  • The International Diabetes Federation (IDF)is a worldwide alliance of over 230 national diabetes associations in more than 160 countries.


  • The Federation is committed to raising global awareness of diabetes, promoting appropriate diabetes care and prevention, and encouraging activities towards finding a cure for the different types of diabetes.

Projects and activities of International Diabetes Federation:

  • The International Diabetes Federation conducts a number of activities and projects:
  • These include advocacy and lobbying work, education for people with diabetes and their healthcare providers, public awareness and health improvement campaigns, as well as the promotion of the free exchange of diabetes knowledge. A few examples include:

World Diabetes Day:

  • The primary awareness campaign of the diabetes world, marked every year on 14 November.
  • As a result of the passage of United Nations Resolution 61/225 in December 2006, World Diabetes Day is an official United Nations day.
  • The campaign is represented by the blue circle, the global symbol of diabetes.

The World Diabetes Congress:

  • It provides a unique and international forum to discuss a wide variety of diabetes-related topics.

The Diabetes Atlas: 

  • A unique resource on diabetes for a wide range of audiences including decision-makers, public health authorities, healthcare professionals and educators.


  • A programme that funds translational research projects in primary and secondary prevention of diabetes to provide the opportunity to ‘translate’ lessons learned from clinical research to those who can benefit most: people affected by diabetes.

Life for a Child Programme:

  • A programme helping children with diabetes in developing countries to access the diabetes care that they require to survive.

What is the way forward?

  • Governments should implement urban design policies to facilitate physical activity as a component of daily life.
  • The private sector must collaborate to implement many of the prevention-oriented governmental policies.
  • Non-governmental organisations can assist with the formation of multi – sectoral international networks and alliances to advocate for policy change, knowledge generation, and translation of research findings for policymakers.
  • Academics and researchers should engage by improving research and surveillance systems and training young professionals to tackle these complex issues.
  • Efforts are needed to educate the public about diabetes risk factors, prevention, and complications, using clear and simple messages.
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