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Raising awareness about Diabetes on World Health Day

Posted by Sr Antoinette Baldwin SSJ on 7 April 2016
Raising awareness about Diabetes on World Health Day

We are God's Masterpieces

Pope Francis reminds us that we 'are masterpieces of God's creation, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.' (7/17/13).  What does this mean in real concrete terms in our day to day living? 

On April 7 World Health Day presents us with just one opportunity to reflect on our attentiveness to affording our bodies the reverence and respect to which they are entitled.  Diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges facing the health system in Australia with one in four adult Australians suffering from Diabetes or prediabetes.  The World Health Organisation has three key messages related to Diabetes:

1) Increase Awareness

2) Scale Up Prevention

3) Strengthen Care

In this brief article we shall think about awareness and prevention.  Even as science probes the mysteries of the universe and we stand in awe before the wonder and majesty of creation, medical science is unveiling more and more about the complexity and wonder that is the human person.   We may reflect for a moment on the words of the Psalmist:

I will give thanks to you, for
I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works.
and my soul knows it very well.    

Ps 139: 13 14

In our humanity we have been entrusted with our bodies, a wonder of engineering and a maze of interrelated complexities that we do not yet fully comprehend.    As with all complex structures things can go wrong and even the simplest malfunction can throw our systems into chaos and upset the delicate balance that is part of the miracle of our being. 

Part of this delicate balance depends on a relatively modest organ, our pancreas, to produce enzymes to aid digestion and one hormone, insulin, to regulate sugar.

A failure to produce insulin  or of the body to utilise it can result in  uncontrolled diabetes causing excessive glucose (sugar)  to accumulate in the system resulting, among other things, in blindness, kidney failure, loss of limbs, heart attack, stroke, stillbirth and death.

There are three forms of Diabetes all with some possible genetic links and predisposing factors:

Type 1 or early onset or childhood diabetes and gestational (pregnancy related) diabetes need vigilance and early detection.  However, for most of us the greatest risk lies in Type 2 diabetes which accounts for 80- 90% of all cases.

What can we do about it?   Type 2 Diabetes is linked to weight, diet, a sedentary lifestyle and high blood  pressure.  So prevention or control is linked to:

A Healthy Diet, Reduced Stress and Moderate Exercise

There is no guarantee that even with these precautions diabetes may not present itself but there is a guarantee that we can minimise or even eradicate its effects.  For more information see your health practitioner or go to this website  for more information.

Even as Pope Francis reminds us to care for others we can extend this care to ourselves: 'All of us must care for life so, go forth and don't be discouraged. Care for life. It's worth it.'  (Cardinal Bergoglio Aug. 31, 2005)

Author: Sr Antoinette Baldwin SSJ
About: Sr Antoinette is the Health Care Coordnator at the De La Salle Provincial Office in Sydney.
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