DIABETES: NURSES MAKE THE DIFFERENCE
World Diabetes Day: 14th November, 2020
Diabetes Mellitus (Diabetes for short) is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by elevated blood sugar levels, which progressively results in end-organ (eye, kidney nerves, blood vessels, and heart) damage. It is a disease occasioned by problems with the production and/or function of insulin in regulating blood glucose, manifesting in a plethora of debilitating metabolic symptoms and life-threatening complications. According to the International Diabetes Federation, about 425 million people were living with diabetes with 1.6 million diabetes-associated death in 2016. (1) Diabetes is also a leading cause of disability with thousands of lower limb amputations per year. So much a burden is this chronic endocrinologic disorder affecting the young and old alike and incurring a huge socio-economic cost for individuals and society at large.
Diabetes is classified into type 1 and type 2 diabetes, amongst other variants. Each type determines the specifics of care provided in its management. But generally, the therapy of diabetes involves the integration of lifestyle modifications with the use of antidiabetic medications to control blood glucose levels and psychosocial support during care.
This requires extensive interaction with various healthcare professionals; general practitioners and specialists amongst physicians, pharmacists, nurses, therapists, nutritionists, and others. Nurses occupy a pivotal position in the management team of diabetes patients, not only as of the experts in demonstrating diabetes self-care to ambulatory patients but also as advanced caregivers and motivators to diabetic inpatients whether primarily admitted for diabetes or otherwise. (2)
Nurses represent about half the population of all health practitioners enhancing diabetes management, as bedside nurses or diabetes nurse specialists collaborating with other professional diabetes specialists in delivering optimal patient care.
While each setting in various countries has different extents to which nurses are permitted autonomous decision-making in diabetes care, the critical roles played by nurses, in increasing the understanding of the disease and its management, mediating and execution of therapeutic orders, and offering psychological support, remain invaluable. And accordingly, evidence of positive outcomes resulting from nursing intervention in the prevention and management of diabetes has been well reported in the literature(3).
With the continuously increasing prevalence of diabetes, spreading awareness about risk factors, and promoting self-care stand expedient to flatten the curve. This also aids early diagnosis. Diabetes as a chronic disease often requires lifelong management, with the occasional upsurge of acute complications or adverse drug events such as hyperosmolar hyperglycemic shock, drug-induced hypoglycemia, and diabetic foot ulcers, nursing care in managing these events help prevent escalation into fatalities or amputations. Mental support with knowledge of diabetes provided to patients also helps to promote medication adherence in outpatients. Correct drug usage and diet control (including the calculation of caloric content of meals) help reduce the risk of complication occurrence.
In recognition of these invaluable contributions nurses are making in the prevention and management of diabetes, this year’s world diabetes day (14th November) is themed “Nurses make the difference“. Attested and appreciated. In line with this, IPSF-AfRO joins the world in celebrating our nurses today for their diligence and commitment to the promotion and restoration of good health in our communities, all over the world.
- WHO. Diabetes. 2020 Available at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes
- Monica Nikitara, Costas S Constantinou, and Marianna Diomidous. The Role of Nurses and the Facilitators and Barriers in Diabetes Care: A Mixed-Methods Systematic Literature Review. Behav Sci (Basel). 2019 Jun; 9(6): 61.
- Golnaz Azami, Kim Lam Soh, Shariff Ghazali Sazlina, Md. Said Salmiah, Sanaz Aazami, Mosayeb Mozafari, Hamid Taghinejad, “Effect of a Nurse-Led Diabetes Self-Management Education Program on Glycosylated Hemoglobin among Adults with Type 2 Diabetes”, Journal of Diabetes Research, vol. 2018, Article ID 4930157, 12 pages, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/4930157