World Diabetes Day 2020 is coming up in just a couple of weeks — November 14, 2020, to be exact. Each year, this day features a number of diabetes awareness campaigns, both in the physical world and online. This year, of course, virtual events and online awareness campaigns will make up the bulk of activities due to COVID-19.
World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness in response to rising diabetes rates worldwide, and it was made an official United Nations holiday in 2006. It’s recognized on November 14 because that’s the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who discovered insulin along with Charles Best in 1922.
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Each year, the IDF selects a theme for World Diabetes Day. In both 2018 and 2019, it was The Family and Diabetes, to highlight how diabetes affects not just an individual, but spouses and children.
For World Diabetes Day 2020, the theme is The Nurse and Diabetes, to highlight the vital role nurses play in supporting people with diabetes.
What’s going on in 2020
World Diabetes Day events, as a rule, aren’t centrally planned. Instead, a variety of groups and individuals decide to organize and host events and activities.
Since the main objective of the day is diabetes awareness, there are a few different online efforts to spread the word about different aspects of diabetes. One is a short new online course from the IDF called The Role of the Diabetes Educator, which is available for free to the public from October to the end of December 2020. The course aims to “help nurses and other health professionals to effectively support people with diabetes and promote healthy lifestyles and self-management to achieve optimal control of the condition,” and lasts a total of 60 minutes. Its sections last a few minutes each, and can be completed at your own pace.
As it has in previous years, the IDF offers an online risk assessment to evaluate your risk for type 2 diabetes. The group encourages people both to take the assessment, and to share it with others — including through social media — as part of World Diabetes Day.
Another campaign that spans the digital and physical worlds is the IDF’s blue circle campaign, which aims to share this universal symbol for diabetes awareness far and wide. Various diabetes-related groups and workplaces also encourage members to wear blue for World Diabetes Day, and often post photos on social media — sometimes with the group posing in a circle. This year, of course, it’s expected that most people will share symbols while staying physically distanced, such as by using the blue circle selfie app for iOS and Android phones and tablets.
World Diabetes Day is also the day of the Global Diabetes Walk, in which over 5 million people have participated since it began in 2004. This year, people are encouraged to sign up to take steps alone or in small groups to raise diabetes awareness.
How to get involved
There are several ways to get involved with World Diabetes Day 2020, depending on how much time and effort you’d like to spend.
Probably the easiest way is to be active on social media, such as by using the hashtags #WorldDiabetesDay and #NursesMakeTheDifference.
You can also take a selfie on the day of the event and share it, ideally while wearing blue or a blue circle — or using the official blue circle selfie app.
You can also look for a local World Diabetes Day event — including virtual events — although the official worldwide event page may not be helpful, as it only includes events that are shared with the IDF. You may have better luck looking for a JDRF event in your area, either for World Diabetes Day or for National Diabetes Month (November).
If you’re looking to take on some organizational responsibility, you can organize and promote a local event for World Diabetes Day (and register it with the IDF). An event can be almost anything — a purely symbolic or commemorative activity (including lighting a building or monument in blue), a rally involving people speaking about diabetes, or an educational seminar.
If you’re organizing an event or if you work in a healthcare setting, you can use official educational and promotional materials that are available for World Diabetes Day.
No matter what your skills are or how much time you have, there’s a way to get the word out about diabetes on November 14.
Want to learn more about ways to observe World Diabetes Day and National Diabetes Month this November? Read “Ten Ways to Observe National Diabetes Month.”