Winter's Head of International Education, Carolyn Savage, discusses the importance of diabetes awareness around the world...


Back in 2001, when I was lucky enough to be working as a class teacher in Sri Lanka, I had the pleasure of teaching a wonderful young boy named Nicolai. It was early in my teaching career and he was the first child in my class to have diabetes, so naturally I wanted to know more about his condition and how it was managed. I spoke at length with Nicolai and his mother and also did a great deal of research of my own. Not only did Nicolai participate in all of our activities, class trips and events without a problem, he was also one of my best students. Mature and responsible beyond his years (he was only 8), he knew how to manage his condition well and when to call on me for help.

November 14th 2016 marks the 25th annual World Diabetes Day (WDD). Introduced in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), WDD aims to raise awareness and drive coordinated action around the world to confront the growing threat posed by diabetes. This is a challenge in every part of the world. To view the full rankings, please use the following link: Diabetes prevalence 2015 Country Ranking.

Although Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease and is unrelated to lifestyle and food intake, global diet, exercise and obesity trends have led to a dramatic increase in cases of Type 2 diabetes worldwide, and WDD has worked hard to spread understanding of this. Many governments, organisations and schools have become increasingly aware of the part played by lifestyle, and we are seeing more and more coordinated efforts to change the current trends and introduce more healthy ways of living. Schools are introducing healthy food programmes, doctors are recommending lifestyle changes, and parents are encouraging their children to participate in more active pursuits after school.

To view some of the events taking place around the world today, please use the following link to IDF’s interactive map, which is updated in real-time: WDD 2016 Around the World. This year’s theme is ‘Eyes on Diabetes’, highlighting the plight of those who have developed eye disease or even blindness as a result of diabetes, in the hope that earlier screening will become more widespread and reduce the frequency of such complications.

To find out more about Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, please explore the IDF website and take a look at the Diabetes UK website. There are also some great videos available on YouTube, many aimed at children and schools. I particularly like this one, which is a short animated film explaining what diabetes is, and this short video where parents and children share their stories.


By Carolyn Savage - Head of International Education