Dr V Mohan, Chairman and Chief of Diabetology, Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre and Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, Chennai, India talks about how the role of diabetologists has evolved with time in helping patients manage diabetes
Every year November 14 is celebrated as World Diabetes Day both by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), in order to recognise the birthday of the discoverer of insulin, Dr Frederick Banting. Every year, there is a theme around World Diabetes Day and this year the theme is ‘Family and Diabetes’. The aim of this theme is to raise awareness about the positive impact the family has on all those who have diabetes. When one person is affected with diabetes in the family, it affects the other members as well. For eg, when the dietary habits of that person have to be modified this cannot be achieved without the support of the family.
Changing role of diabetologists in today’s scenario
In earlier days all the diabetologist had to do was to check the blood sugar of the patient and make adjustments in the tablet or the insulin dose based on the blood test results. Today, patients are living longer and hence diabetologist has to look after not only the diabetes but also its complications including the eye, kidney, heart and feet. This means a detailed study of all the complications must be done at least once a year. Moreover, since diabetes provides ample opportunities for preventing diabetes in next generation, once somebody has diabetes in the family, the diabetologist must counsel the patient to bring the next generation in the family or the siblings for check-up so that, if they are likely to develop diabetes, the disorder can be picked up in the stage of pre-diabetes where it is eminently reversible and diabetes can be totally prevented. The diabetologist also acts as a counsellor giving support to the family, especially if one or more of the family members has complications of diabetes. Finally, with patients living much longer today and being able to manage their condition and live longer, at our centre we have motivated many people with diabetes become diabetes ambassadors or DIA-ambassadors. We find that patients respond much better to the words of a fellow patient with diabetes than from a doctor who does not have diabetes. Most people with diabetes are very empathetic to their patients and this is particularly true in the case of type 1 diabetes where we find that those who have lived for many years with type 1 diabetes are able to counsel children who have just developed type 1 diabetes and their families and give them a lot of hope which helps to improve the quality of life of these families. These are indeed changing times and with the advent of social media and the press, it is now possible to reach out to patients and their families and give them much needed solace, comfort and empathy, so that they can tackle their diabetes better and live long and healthy lives.
This will help to reduce the emotional impact of diabetes and ensure that many more of our patients can celebrate their 100th birthday and still be healthy!