World Health Day: Dr. Ruth Tarantine Discusses Diabetes
World Health Day, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual day dedicated to global health awareness, is April 7. Each year, the WHO raises widespread awareness of a specific topic that’s affecting global health. This year’s theme is Beat Diabetes.1
Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose. Over time, diabetes can lead to damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. According to the WHO, about 350 million people worldwide have diabetes – a number likely to more than double in the next 20 years.2
Dr. Ruth Tarantine, CTU’s Dean of Nursing, discusses the world’s growing diabetes epidemic and how nurses can play a role preventing and controlling the disease.
Understanding the Diabetes Epidemic
Dr. Tarantine speaks to the seriousness of this disease. “According to the World Health Organization, diabetes was reported to be the direct cause of some 1.5 million deaths in 2012, with more than 80 percent occurring in low to middle income countries,3” Tarantine stated. Based on current trends, WHO projects diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death in 2030.4
Although often undiagnosed, diabetes is linked to other major health issues, such as Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and kidney failure. Tarantine reports that, “Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure, accounting for nearly 44 percent of new cases.5" It’s also a leading cause of blindness and amputation, as well.6
But while lower income countries have high diabetes rates, the United States certainly isn’t far off, according to Tarantine, who highlighted some very startling statistics: “Nearly 24 million people in the United States have diabetes and nearly 180,000 people are living with kidney failure as a result.7”
“Because of [the United States’] poor diet and exercise habits, obesity rates continue to soar, thus adding to the diabetes epidemic. Of the global diabetic population, 90% have Type II diabetes, with most patients being overweight and leading sedentary lifestyles,8” Dr. Tarantine continued, noting the United States’ struggles with the disease.
How Nurses Can Help
From the statistics and issues that Tarantine calls attention to, it’s clear that healthcare providers have a significant role to play in reducing diabetes rates and contributing to prevention. “Regardless of where nurses are employed, it is impossible to not be impacted by the diabetic population,” says Dr. Tarantine.
Nurses, in particular, have much to offer in combating diabetes, according to Tarantine. “Nurses are key in providing health education to patients,” she said. “Nurses not only target preventive care such as healthy diet and exercise, but, along with dieticians, are crucial in teaching newly diagnosed diabetics about dietary and lifestyle changes needed to live with diabetes.”
In addition to educating patients, Dr. Tarantine also stressed that it’s important for nurses and other healthcare providers to self-educate about diabetes, in order to provide patients with the best and most immediately relevant care. “It is crucial for nurses to stay up to date with diabetic management. Nurses can make a significant difference in decreasing the incidence of diabetes through preventative teaching and continue to improve the quality of life of the diabetic patient through education,” she said.
Tarantine continued: “There are numerous resources available for healthcare professionals on the American Diabetes Association website.”
As Tarantine notes, beating diabetes will require a concerted effort from healthcare providers of all types. Ultimately, World Health Day 2016 seeks to inspire the medical community to support patients living with the disease and help others prevent it.
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Dr. Ruth Tarantine is the university dean of nursing at Colorado Technical University, which offers a CCNE-accredited RN to BSN degree program, as well as a Master of Science in Nursing degree. Tarantine is a nursing industry leader with more than 25 years of experience, serving as a nurse, educator and administrator. She earned her doctorate in nursing practice from Chatham University and her master’s in nursing education from the University of Pittsburgh.
1,2,3World Health Day 2016: Beat diabetes. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2016, from http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2016/en/
4 World Health Day 2016: Fact sheet. Retrieved March 28, 2016, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs312/en/
5 Kidney Disease of Diabetes. (2014, April). Retrieved March 28, 2016, from http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/kidney-disease/kidney-disease-of-diabetes/Pages/facts.aspx#1
6 World Health Day 2016: Fact sheet. Retrieved March 28, 2016, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs312/en/
7 Kidney Disease of Diabetes. (2014, April). Retrieved March 28, 2016, from http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/kidney-disease/kidney-disease-of-diabetes/Pages/facts.aspx#1
8 World Health Day 2016: Beat diabetes. Retrieved March 28, 2016, from http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2016/en/