The Malta Independent 21 November 2018, Wednesday

Bringing Diabetes to light

Malta Independent Saturday, 13 November 2010, 00:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

Hundreds of monuments around the world will be lit in blue on World Diabetes Day being celebrated tomorrow.

Malta will join the rest of the world to raise awareness about diabetes. Blue light will be shone on St George’s Square and the Health Ministry at Palazzo Castellania in Merchants’ Street. The two sites will be lit in blue between Friday night and Monday morning.

The awareness campaign started yesterday with a press conference organised jointly by the Maltese Diabetes Association, the Diabetic Clinic and the Health Ministry at Mater Dei’s Out-patients Department.

2010 marks the second year of the five-year focus on ‘Diabetes education and prevention’, the theme selected for World Diabetes Day 2009 to 2013.

Diabetes is a chronic, potentially debilitating and often fatal disease. It occurs as a result of problems with the production and supply of insulin in the body. Either the body produces no or insufficient insulin (Type 1 diabetes), or the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces (Type 2 diabetes). Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that helps ‘sugar’ (glucose) to leave the blood and enter the cells of the body to be used as ‘fuel’.

About diabetes

There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is sometimes called insulin-dependent, immune-mediated or juvenile-onset diabetes. It is caused by an autoimmune reaction where the body’s defence system attacks the insulin-producing cells. The reason why this occurs is not fully understood. People with Type 1 diabetes produce very little or no insulin. The disease can affect people of any age, but usually occurs in children or young adults. People with this form of diabetes need injections of insulin every day in order to control the levels of glucose in their blood. If people with Type 1 diabetes do not have access to insulin, they die.

Type 2 diabetes is sometimes called non-insulin dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes. People with Type 2 diabetes do not usually require injections of insulin. Usually, they can control the glucose in their blood by watching their diet, exercising regularly, and taking oral medication and, possibly, insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is most common in people older than 45 who are overweight. However, as a consequence of increased obesity among the young, it is becoming more common in children and young adults. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and accounts for 90% to 95% of all diabetes.

If people with Type 2 diabetes are not diagnosed and treated, they can develop serious complications, which can result in an early death. Worldwide, many millions of people have Type 2 diabetes without even knowing it. Others do not have access to adequate medical care. The onset of Type 2 diabetes is also linked to genetic factors but obesity, physical inactivity and an unhealthy diet increase the risks.

Some women develop a third, usually temporary, type of diabetes called ‘gestational diabetes’ when they are pregnant. Gestational diabetes develops in 2% to 5% of all pregnancies, but usually disappears when the pregnancy is over. Women who have had gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later on.

Screening

Those who wish to find out how they can get screened for diabetes should consult their family doctor. Alternatively, all health centres will be offering free screening and consultation from 8am until 1pm this weekend. Also this weekend, medical students will be organising an awareness-raising activity at Baystreet while pharmacy students will be in Qawra, both between 11am and 3pm. Meanwhile, the Maltese Diabetes Association can be contacted on telephone number 2122 1518.

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