Frankfurt - Maram Dalab is a 21-year-old woman, tall and slim, from Jordan in the Middle East, and one of the 366 million people worldwide living with a form of diabetes.
For her, diabetes is a full-time job.
“Diabetes is your lifelong friend. Take care of it and it will take care of you back,” she told Sapa on the sidelines of a conference on diabetes in Frankfurt, Germany, organised by pharmaceutical company Sanofi.
Her day starts with an injection of insulin.
“It is a full-time job you cannot avoid it or quit.” She had been living with type one diabetes since she was eight-years-old.
Relating her story, she said she was always tired and was shocked one day when her parents took her to hospital.
“I thought I had flu, but my father was worried. I spent weeks in hospital. To me it was good to be around doctors. I wanted to be a doctor.”
After weeks in hospital, she accepted her condition and learnt to live with it.
“It is important for people to do regular check-ups for diabetes. Most people have it and they do not know.”
According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), 366 million people have a form of diabetes. Fifteen million of them are in Africa, and South Africa accounts for 6.5 million.
Diabetes figures in Africa are projected to increase by 90 percent by 2030, when 552 million people in the world would have a form of diabetes.
According to the IDF 186 million do not know whether they have diabetes.
“Diabetes is a silent killer,” said Didier Halimi, a diabetologist at Sanofi.
He said diabetes could lead to blindness, heart problems, stroke, renal disease, and amputation.
Diabetes is a medical condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is too high because the pancreas does not produce the insulin which helps the body's cells absorb it, or the insulin produced does not work properly.
There are two forms of diabetes. Type one requires daily injections of insulin, and type two relates to obesity and lifestyle. The symptoms includes thirst, blurred vision, and fatigue.
The conference was intended to highlight Sanofi's range of treatment and services to people living with diabetes.
Dalab said governments worldwide had to create awareness about diabetes. - Sapa
* The author of this report is attending the conference as a guest of pharmaceutical company Sanofi.