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November is Diabetes Awareness Month
About 15 years ago the American Diabetes Association started two awareness programs.
First, the fourth Tuesday of March became Diabetes Awareness Day. Programs were established all over the country to bring diabetes to the forefront. There was very little media attention to diabetes at that time. I arrived at Beth Israel to start up the Diabetes Management Program that January. The previous year, during my tenure as president of ADA, I spent a lot of time with Nicole Johnson, the reigning Miss America. She agreed to come to Beth Israel in March of 1999 and meet and greet people in the lobby of PACC. Although she was somewhat ill, she kept her promise, and her beauty and charm won the day. So, for us diabetes was on the map. Even though we don’t get celebrities now, we have a very aggressive awareness day.
The success of diabetes awareness day led to establishing November as Diabetes Month. Again, multiple programs over the 30 days brought the message home. Not to be outdone, a few years later the United Nations declared Diabetes Mellitus a world health issue and declared November 14th World Diabetes Day. This is acknowledged around the world with education and interactive programs. A young school girl won a competition by designing a simple blue circle pin indicating that we are all impacted by diabetes, and we all must take the responsibility of “preventing and curing diabetes through programs of research, education and advocacy.” The latter is taken from the ADA mission statement.
As more and more data come in, it is clear that close to half of the world is affected by diabetes or prediabetes, and both must be aggressively treated to improve quality of life and reduce the risk for complications.