World Diabetes Day 2020: The crucial role of nurses and health professionals in diabetes

As the number of people with diabetes continues to rise across the world, the role of nurses and other health professionals is crucial in managing the impact of the condition, the International Federation of Diabetes (IDF) urged this World Diabetes Day.

With the theme ‘The Nurse and Diabetes’, the campaign on November 14 raised awareness of the crucial role that nurses play in supporting people living with diabetes.

Currently, nurses account for more than half of the global health workforce, supporting people who either live with diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes. People living with diabetes face a number of challenges, and education is vital to equip nurses with the skills to support them.

Over 460 million people are currently estimated to be living with diabetes worldwide, a number expected to rise to 578 million by 2030. Last year alone, the condition was responsible for 4.2 million deaths and at least USD 760 billion in health expenditure – 10% of the global total spent on healthcare. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of a global shortfall of 5.9 million nurses and indicated that nursing graduates will need to increase by 8% a year to overcome the deficit by 2030.

Categorised as an international health crisis, diabetes affects hundreds of millions of people across the globe.

In 2020, the urgency of addressing this crisis became even more evident with the vulnerability of people with diabetes during the COVID-19 health emergency, who are at least twice as at risk of severe disease or death. Half of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in some regions were found to be living with the condition.

“The tide of diabetes is rising fast and action is needed,” IDF President, Professor Andrew Boulton said.

“Governments must recruit and equip an adequately trained workforce to support the growing numbers living with diabetes. Nurses are integral to the delivery of effective diabetes treatment, supporting ongoing diabetes management and preventing diabetes complications. Nurses make the difference.”


  • 463 million adults were living with diabetes in 2019. The number of people living with diabetes is expected rise to 578 million by 2030.
  • 1 in 2 adults with diabetes remain undiagnosed (232 million). The majority have Type 2 diabetes.
  • More than 3 in 4 people with diabetes live in low and middle-income countries.
  • 1 in 6 live births (20 million) are affected by high blood glucose (hyperglycaemia) in pregnancy.
  • Two-thirds of people with diabetes live in urban areas and three-quarters are of working age.
  • 1 in 5 people with diabetes (136 million) are above 65 years old.
  • Diabetes caused 4.2 million deaths in 2019.
  • Diabetes was responsible for at least USD 760 billion in health expenditure in 2019 – 10% of the global total spent on healthcare.

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