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World Diabetes Day event raises public awareness of disease
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2019.11.13 15:53
  • Updated 2019.11.13 15:53
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It was 20 years ago that Jang, a career soldier, was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during a physical checkup.

“As I served as an officer in the army, I was very confident of taking care of my health,” said Jang, who wanted to be known by just his surname. “One day, however, I found out that I had diabetes through a medical examination at a hospital that I visited due to cold-like symptoms. The diagnosis was a devastating blow for me, and I was very depressed early on.”

Now, however, Jang said he has nothing to worry about. Over the past two decades since he found out diabetes, he has taken his insulin injections and keeps a diabetes journal to track his blood glucose levels every day.

“I do not have to worry about anything as I am following the instructions of a doctor, who I can trust and depend on,” Jang said. “Also, after setting my principles, such as self-blood glucose measurement, diabetes diary, healthy eating, regular exercise, and taking the right medicine, I am living a healthier life than anyone else.”

Best Diabetic Award recipients take a commemorative photo during the World Diabetes Day event at Seoul City Hall on Tuesday.

Jang was one of the 20 people who received a “Best Diabetic Award” during the World Diabetes Day commemoration event held at Seoul City Hall on Tuesday.

World Diabetes Day, designated by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization, is the primary global awareness campaign focusing on diabetes, which has been commemorated on November 14 since 1991.

In Korea, the Korean Diabetes Association (KDA) held its first commemorative event last year to raise awareness and award diabetics who have managed their disease in exemplarily. This year, KDA advanced its ceremony to Monday to avoid the scholastic ability test for college entrance.

“Some people say we are facing a diabetes crisis. ‘Crisis’ just won’s cut it, however. The humankind is waging war with diabetes,” IDF President Cho Nam-han said. “It is understood that in the last 100 years, 37.7 million people have died because of wars. The number of deaths from diabetes in the last decade has reached nearly 40 million.”

Cho reiterated that diabetes is one of the biggest problems facing humankind.

“Over the past two years, 40 million people have been newly diagnosed with diabetes,” Cho said. “A new diabetic emerges in the world every 0.83 seconds, and the direct and indirect amount of money spent on managing diabetes totals 1,300 trillion won ($111.3 billion). To deal with the recently occurred cases alone, about 40 trillion won is needed.”

Diabetes is no longer an individual problem but a disease that requires national involvement to prevent and manage it, Cho said. According to IDF, countries that cannot deal with diabetes property could even go bankrupt, he added.

KDA also vowed to do its best to raise awareness of diabetes.

According to KDA data, the number of diabetic patients in Korea surpassed five million in 2016 and has been increasing rapidly. However, the nation is showing poor records in managing, treating and controlling the disease. Korean people’s diabetes awareness was only 62.6 percent, and the treatment rate stood at even more, with 56.7 percent.

KDA officials say events like the World Diabetes Day is essential as the nation needs to make more efforts in raising public awareness for diabetes.

“This year’s theme for World Diabetes Day is ‘Family and Diabetes,’” KDA Board of Directors Chairman Park Kyong-soo said. “The support and help from families are crucial for diabetic patients.”

The association will continue to promote that family cooperation and support are a prerequisite for preventing and managing diabetes, Park added.

KDA officials and other participants light up the blue circle to celebrate World Diabetes Day at Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul Tuesday.

During the event, participants took part in the World Diabetes Day Blue Monument Challenge by lighting up the blue circle, which is the global symbol for diabetes awareness and the logo of World Diabetes Day at Gwanghwamun Square in downtown Seoul.

Since 2007, famous sites and buildings in 116 countries have been bathed in blue lights as part of the challenge. The celebration has included the Empire State Building, the United Nations Building, Rome’s Coliseum, the London Eye, the Egyptian Pyramids and hundreds of more locations around the world.

In Korea, iconic buildings such as the National Assembly, Seoul City Hall, Namsan Tower, and Boshingak have participated in the lighting ceremony.


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