I was very honored to participate in the first ever Ascensia Diabetes Care Asia-Pacific Nurse Symposium that was held in Bangkok, Thailand last month over two days. I was asked to be one of the keynote speakers, sharing my own story of diabetes and how I am controlling my blood sugar! Thanks to Ascensia for the invitation to tell people about my journey with diabetes.
The conference was arranged to provide an opportunity for nurses of different nationalities to share the experiences of diabetes care and diabetes education from various countries in the Asia-Pacific region, so that they can improve the management of diabetes with their new knowledge.
The number of people with diabetes in the world has reached 425 million and is continuing to grow rapidly. Diabetes has increased in various countries, especially in Asia, and there is a trend for younger onset. There are also challenges in diabetes management that are specifically related to the Asia-Pacific region. This situation cannot be ignored! Therefore, it is necessary to hold regular seminars for the Asian region to share and exchange national experiences.
During the seminar, there were various doctors and nurses sharing their perspectives and exciting research. One of my key takeaways from the meeting, and something that surprised me the most, was that the citizens of India have a really low awareness of diabetes. Only 25% of the people have heard of "diabetes", which is staggering considering the high rates of diabetes in India. I believe that the local government should work hard to raise the awareness of diabetes among the general population to make sure that this issue can be overcome.
I personally found that one of the most practical sessions was given by a doctor from Thailand. He described how to do diabetes screening with the general public and explained his work to prevent diabetes. His opinion was very useful for me because diabetes screening is also one of the services we provide in Hong Kong though my charity, Angel of Diabetic. In the past we only asked the public to check fasting or postprandial blood glucose to enable us to diagnose diabetes, but I learned in this session that it could be more efficient to do random glucose screening as well. This is an area where we have the opportunity to improve what we are doing and optimize our screening programs.
I also learned that China is training many "diabetes educators" to support the care of people with diabetes. The officers of the Heilongjiang Association of Diabetes Educators in China explained that in addition to providing training courses, they also provide cloud technology to allow people with diabetes to upload their blood glucose management information to the cloud. Capturing these readings is very helpful as it enables tailor-made blood sugar management for the patient and provides more real case demonstrations that aid the diabetes educators in providing even more effective education in the long term!
Managing blood sugar with new technologies is the trend of the times! In addition to China, Taiwan has done a good job in this aspect. The conference invited speakers from Taiwan to talk about the benefits for patients of using digital approaches to managing blood sugar. As a patient, I absolutely support the use of these technologies! A digitalized approach to blood glucose management enables me to record what is happening in my body in a more systematic way, providing a clearer understanding of the relationship between my daily life and blood glucose levels. It is also easier to share my health data with healthcare professionals. Therefore, this approach provides great help and support for my overall diabetes management. However, in this busy society, it is actually an obstacle to take the initiative and spend the time capturing readings into a digital platform after the patient has measured their blood sugar! I have had this experience before, that is, I have collected data for a few days and then only inputted this information into the digital system later, which may or may not be entered correctly and it is not always clear what had been eaten at the time. The most ideal approach is that the blood glucose monitoring system can directly transmit the test results to the mobile phone software, so that the data is captured automatically. This makes it more convenient and more effective for people with diabetes to manage their blood glucose, and also prevents errors. Recently, I have learned that Ascensia's Contour Plus One meter can work with Contour Diabetes app to do this automatic synchronization function, which is definitely good news for users.
In addition to the sharing from healthcare professionals in various countries, I also had the chance to explain my story in my sharing session. I mainly shared the challenges I faced as a diabetes patient and how I grew up with diabetes, in which I stressed the importance of patient self-management and monitoring of blood sugar. Also, I shared how I had been able to recover the lost pleasure in dining by monitoring my blood sugar. I cannot believe that these experiences are thrilling to the healthcare professionals attending the event, and their reaction gave me more confidence that diabetes education must contain various elements. Patient experience sharing is also crucial, so that healthcare professionals can understand the problems encountered by patients in their lives, so as to provide assistance and support, and thus be more effective in supporting diabetes management! On the other hand, I have shown my own retinal fundus photos, to prove that as long as we carefully educate patients, even though I have had diabetes with me for more than 30 years of diabetes, I can still have a very clear fundus and no signs of retinopathy. I hope it was absolutely encouraging for them!
This seminar has gathered diabetes nursing professionals from many regions together in one place to discuss critical topics in diabetes management. Whether doctors, patients, nurses, etc., can all share and exchange experiences in these types of meeting. I believe that everyone in the future will definitely have a role to play in the management of diabetes, and the most important thing is that these different people work together for the benefit of the patient! I hope that more seminars will be held in the future to share more best practices and benefit more people!