The theme of this year’s World Diabetes Day “Women and Diabetes” reflects on the problems and issues that women with diabetes face. It also highlights the importance of self-management information and affordable life saving diabetes medicines to women living with it in order to strengthen their capacity against type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a one of the major causes of death in women globally, it takes toll on 2.1 million women annually. Currently, there are more than 199 million women living with diabetes and this figure is expected to increase to 313 million by 2040. The traditionally weaker position of women vis a vis men works out against them with regards to access to healthcare services. This particular factor amplifies the impact of diabetes on women.
Owing to the socio-economic bias playing out against them, girls and women with diabetes often encounter obstacles while trying to avail cost-effective diabetes diagnosis, treatment and care. This proposition holds good especially in the developing world. Societal inequalities makes them vulnerable to the main risk factors of diabetes, including but not exclusive to poor nutrition, less physical inactivity, tobacco consumption and addiction, and alcohol abuse.
Out of 150 million women suffering from diabetes worldwide, over 60 million are of reproductive age. It must be noted that women suffering from diabetes are less likely to conceive compared to those without diabetes and the likelihood of difficult pregnancy is comparatively higher. Pre-conception planning can significantly reduce the risk of maternal and child mortality.
Globally, 1 out of 7 births is complicated by Gestational Diabetes (GDM), a life threatening condition for a mother and her newly born child. The condition often leads to pregnancy related complications including high BP, large birth weight babies and difficult labour. The chances of women developing type 2 diabetes increase significantly resulting in health issues and medical expenses in later years.
Another negative aspect of diabetes for women suffering from it is the discriminatory attitude of the society. Besides gender bias, diabetic girls and women are often subjected to discrimination owing to their health status, which is viewed as a liability in a male-dominated society. They are also treated unequally, in the matters of diagnosis and treatment.
Women comprise one half of the humanity. Their problems and health issues are not just theirs. They are ours as well. This World Diabetes Day let us resolve to end the institutional societal bias that women suffering from diabetes have to contend with. Until and unless societies around the globe take decisive steps to eliminate the sufferings of the other half of humanity, a just and equitable world will always remain a distant dream.