Women and Diabetes: advocating for medical equality


World Diabetes Day is celebrated every year on the 14th of November. WDD promotes a specific theme each year to highlight the importance of various medical and social aspects that are affected by this condition.

The organisation has chosen 2017 as the year they focus on “Women and Diabetes”.

The statistics are truly alarming. There are currently 199 million women who are living and dealing with diabetes around the world. This figure is projected to skyrocket to 313 million by the year 2040[1]. WDD partners advocate for the right to women’s affordable and equitable access to knowledge, information, essential medicines and technologies to ensure self-management, better outcomes and ultimately, increase their capacity to prevent type 2 diabetes.

Women and girls with diabetes can often face stigmatisation and discrimination because of the accumulation of stigmas this gender carries as a result of male dominated societies across the globe. Advocates argue that these hardships can result in medical inequalities that can discourage women from seeking appropriate diagnosis and treatment options.

Diabetes causes the death of 2.1 million women a year making it the ninth leading cause of female death globally. While women’s rights have grown leaps and bounds in the past decades, gender roles and power dynamics continue to affect our society. Partners of WDD point out that, “As a result of socioeconomic conditions, girls and women with diabetes experience barriers in accessing cost-effective diabetes prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment and care, particularly in developing countries.”

Several risk factors that directly affect diabetes are arguably a result of socioeconomic inequalities that many females are exposed to. These include tobacco and alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity, and a poor diet – among others.

In addition, women are also faced with increased risks associated to gestational diabetes (GDM). GDM develops during gestation and causes high blood sugar, excessive foetus weight gain and obstructed labour; all of which can greatly affect the health of both mother and baby. If not managed correctly by the appropriate health channels, women who have GDM can further develop type 2 diabetes even after giving birth.

Over 60 million worldwide women with diabetes are of reproductive age, accounting for two out of every five females with the disease. Not only does the condition make conceiving ever the more difficult, many pregnancies will result in poor outcomes due to complications.

It is of the utmost importance that medical communities around the world promote the importance of pre-conception planning for all women who have either type 1 or 2 diabetes. The reality is that special care is necessary in order to diminish the risk of mortality and morbidity for both mother and child.

For more information about how to get involved in World Diabetes Day and to join the advocacy efforts for diabetes and women visit http://www.worlddiabetesday.org.

[1] www.worlddiabetesday.org



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