Amid safety precautions, Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC) will be breaking from tradition by not holding its popular WALK event in 2020, but is instead using the occasion to promote a global walkathon and to offer its support to the International Diabetes Federation’s call for increased diabetes training for nurses.
Dr Alya Al Mazrouei, Acting Executive Director of Mubadala Healthcare’s ICLDC, says: "The WALK is the highlight of our annual public-health calendar, and it will be back next year with all of the fun-filled family activities people expect. However, in the meantime, we are putting our full support behind the World Diabetes Foundation ‘Global Walk 2020’, where participants can arrange their own walks in small groups while adhering to all COVID-19 restrictions. It is fitting that we take a globally united approach to fighting diabetes this year, just as we have towards combatting COVID-19."
The Global Walk is held on World Diabetes Day, 14 November, which this year is themed ‘The Nurse and Diabetes’. According to the International Diabetes Federation, which organizes the awareness day, "Healthcare providers and governments must recognize the importance of investing in education and training. With the right expertise, nurses can make the difference for people affected by diabetes."
Dr Al Mazrouei says it was the recognition of the invaluable role nurses play in managing diabetes that motivated ICLDC to organize a series of CME-accredited training events, which are cost-free and open to all nurses who want to enhance their knowledge and readiness to manage the disease. "While nurses at specialized centres like ours are well trained in all aspects of diabetes, it is important that nurses at primary care facilities and other settings are also aware of the signs, symptoms, treatment and precautions to take when caring for a patient with diabetes or pre-diabetes," she adds.
ICLDC consultant paediatric diabetologist, Dr Amani Osman, who organizes the regular training courses, fully agrees. She says: "The burden of diabetes on health resources is growing globally and an effective way of addressing this is by preparing nurses to be champions of expert diabetic care and educators for our patients, as part of a multidisciplinary approach to clinical care."
Dr Emad George, medical director of ICLDC, says that ICLDC has 90 nurses and eight educators across its three centres, who play a vital role in patient care. "They have the knowledge to support our diabetologists and other experts in screening, monitoring and patient education at our dedicated diabetes facilities. In more general settings, nurses, including those working in occupational health, public health and schools, are very likely to come into contact with people who have diabetes and need to know how to recognise and treat them."
He adds that the World Diabetes Foundation estimates that nurses account for 59 per cent of the world’s healthcare professionals, but that the number of trained and employed nurses needs to increase by 8 per cent per year to overcome foreseen shortages by 2030.
"Encouraging people to enter the profession, and empowering those already in the field of nursing by offering diabetes education, will go a long way towards creating a cost-effective solution to managing the growing problem of diabetes globally," he says.
According to the World Diabetes Foundation Atlas of 2019, while the UAE has the second-lowest prevalence of diabetes among the GCC countries, it has one of the highest percentages of undiagnosed cases, estimated at 40 per cent. The Emirates also has one of the highest regional costs per person with diabetes throughout the Middle East, behind Lebanon.