Diabetes is one of the 4 major types of noncommunicable diseases (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases). It is a chronic condition that occurs when the body either does not produce enough insulin or cannot effectively use the insulin it does produce. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the blood sugar (glucose) formed from the food consumed by a person. Diabetes therefore results in raised blood sugar levels which, if not controlled, over time lead to serious damage to many of the body's systems.

There are 2 major forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is characterized by deficient insulin production and requires daily administration of insulin. Symptoms may occur suddenly and include extreme thirst, constant hunger, weight loss, excessive urination, blurred vision and fatigue.

Type 2 diabetes results from the body’s inability to effectively use its insulin. 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Symptoms may be similar to those of type 1 diabetes, but are often less marked. As a result, the condition may be diagnosed several years after onset, after complications have already developed. Type 2 diabetes is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity.

Reduction of the global and regional burden of diabetes requires a 2-pronged approach: interventions to prevent diabetes and interventions to manage people who have already developed the condition in order to reduce progression. Actions are needed both by governments and by people themselves, and at population level and individual health care level.

Beat diabetes: World Health Day 2016 campaign