The number of adults living with diabetes has almost quadrupled since 1980, and the World Health Organization (WHO) projects that diabetes will be the seventh-leading cause of death worldwide in 2030.
In the United States, more than 30 million people have diabetes.
Yet over 7 million don’t even know they have the disease.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the body’s blood glucose (aka blood sugar), is too high. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, and occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t make enough. It occurs most often in adults.
Left untreated, diabetes can lead to nerve damage, amputations, blindness, heart disease, and strokes.
Though there’s no cure for diabetes, the disease can be managed. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends balancing diet with exercise and medicine, which will help control body weight and keep blood glucose in a healthy range.
Through education and outreach, there are a number of organizations and initiatives that are working to create programs and provide resources for people with diabetes and their families. We look at two institutions that are at the forefront of innovative services for those living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre
The son of India’s “Father of Diabetology,” Dr. V. Mohan was always destined to become a pioneer in the field of diabetes. He first started working in the field as an undergraduate medical student and helped his father, the late Prof. M. Viswanathan, set up the first private diabetes center in India, based in Chennai.
In 1991, in an effort to serve the growing number of people affected by diabetes, Dr. Mohan and his wife, Dr. M. Rema, set up the M.V. Diabetes Specialities Centre, which later came to be known as Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre.
“We started in a humble way,” Dr. Mohan said. The center opened with just a few rooms in a rented property, but now has grown to include 35 branches across India.
“As we take up larger and larger projects, with divine blessings, we are able to find the appropriate staff to help us to carry out these activities and this is the basic secret of our success,” Dr. Mohan said.
Dr. Mohan’s is part of a network of private clinics that offers care for about 400,000 people with diabetes across India. The center has also become a WHO collaborating center, and Dr. Mohan’s activities cover a wide range of clinical services, training and education, rural diabetes services, and research.
In addition to the diabetes clinics, Dr. Mohan founded the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation. It’s grown to become one of the largest standalone diabetes research centers in Asia and has published more than 1,100 research papers.
Dr. Mohan’s prides itself on being a family business. His daughter Dr. R.M. Anjana and son-in-law Dr. Ranjit Unnikrishnan are third-generation diabetologists. Dr. Anjana also serves as the center’s managing director, while Dr. Unnikrishnan is the vice-chairman.
“The inspiration to work in diabetes initially came from my father. Later, the support of my wife and the next generation inspired me to expand our work in a very large way,” Dr. Mohan said.
Taking Control of Your Diabetes
Taking Control of Your Diabetes (TCOYD) is defined by education, motivation, and empowerment. The organization — which hosts diabetes conferences and educational programs — was founded in 1995 with the goal of inspiring people with diabetes to more proactively manage their condition.
Dr. Steven Edelman, founder and director of TCOYD, living with type 1 diabetes himself, wanted better care than what was being offered to the diabetes community. As an endocrinologist, he wanted to provide not only hope and motivation to the community he belonged to, but also a new way of understanding what stood in front of those with diabetes. This was the initial seed of TCOYD.
He joined forces with Sandra Bourdette, who was a pharmaceutical representative at the time. As the co-founder, creative visionary, and the organization’s first executive director, Sandy played a big role in bringing their shared vision to life.
From the beginning, Dr. Edelman aimed to keep it light and entertaining in order to make a difficult subject palatable. His borderline crass humor has always defined the TCOYD experience and the organization continues to apply this tactic to its many conferences and workshops, continuing medical educational opportunities, and online resources.
Today, it’s the national leader in providing world-class diabetes education to both patients and healthcare providers.
“Many of our conference participants walk away from our events with a newly developed sense of empowerment to take control of their condition,” said Jennifer Braidwood, the director of marketing for TCOYD.
In 2017, the TCOYD brand expanded to add a digital platform to adapt to the ever-changing landscape in the diabetes world. This platform combines live, in-person events with a one-stop resource center focused on digital relationships.
Jen Thomas is a journalist and media strategist based in San Francisco. When she’s not dreaming of new places to visit and photograph, she can be found around the Bay Area struggling to wrangle her blind Jack Russell Terrier or looking lost because she insists on walking everywhere. Jen is also a competitive Ultimate Frisbee player, a decent rock climber, a lapsed runner, and an aspiring aerial performer.