This week is Diabetes Week, and I’m a firm believer that awareness weeks should be encouraged and promoted rather than ignored. Diabetes Week is all about raising awareness of a condition that is on the rise, and providing people with the information they need on where they can find support if affected by the condition.
It was reported this week that the number of people living with diabetes has increased by 62 percent in less than a decade. Figures now highlight that one in every 16 adults lives with the disease, and 90 percent of these has Type 2 diabetes, which can be associated with being overweight from little to no exercise and a poor diet (1).
I find these results inconceivable. The impact, if this increase in people living with diabetes continues, is going to have a huge strain on the NHS and the services it provides. But being diagnosed with diabetes is frightening, and as a healthcare provider we need to help patients by providing them with accurate information on the support available and advise them on how best to manage their condition in the hope of preventing associated medical conditions.
LloydsPharmacy has been screening patients for Type 2 diabetes for free since 2003, having now completed over 1.5 million tests. We feel, as a Community Pharmacy network, we are perfectly positioned to raise awareness of the condition as we see thousands of patients visiting our stores on a daily basis.
Though I believe Community Pharmacy could play a larger role. After diagnosis and confirmation on the condition from a patient’s GP, pharmacists are readily available to offer advice on lifestyle and wellbeing such as eating and exercising habits, as well as guidance on any new medication a patient may have to start taking, to help manage the condition.
Community Pharmacy could even play a part in the prevention of Type 2 diabetes; the rise in obesity rates doesn’t appear to be declining any time soon and we need to start taking responsibility for our own health. Obesity can lead to a number of health conditions, including Type 2 diabetes, yet pharmacists, who are knowledgeable and qualified to offer advice, are an untapped resource; community pharmacy should be the first port of call when seeking advice on changing lifestyle habits to try to prevent obesity.
Awareness weeks play a vital role in focusing on today’s issues; diabetes is a major concern for patients and the survival of the NHS and through raising awareness of the condition and acting now, the future of both should be more positive.