Created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Diabetes Day takes place each year on November 14th. This date is not an arbitrary one: November 14th is the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, one of the scientists who discovered and identified insulin which to this day remains as the only effective treatment for Type 1 diabetes.
Though numerous surgeons, physicians and scientists had studied the relationship between digestion and the pancreas (the gland that produces insulin, along with other hormones and enzymes), it was not until 1920 that Canadian-born Frederick Banting concluded that the previously-studied digestive secretions were breaking down the islets of Langerhans (named after the pathological anatomist Paul Langerhans, the islets of Langerhans are the areas of the pancreas that contain its insulin-producing cells) and making successful extraction impossible.
After much experimentation, Banting, along with undergraduate assistant Charles Best successfully isolated an extract from the islets of a duct-tied dog before injecting it into a diabetic dog. The extract reduced the second dog's blood sugar by a massive 40% in just one hour. Further experiments refined the process and Banting won the Nobel Prize for his work in 1923. Best's name was not mentioned, a fact that so enraged Banting that he shared his prize money equally with Best.
This year, World Diabetes Day will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. As the world's largest diabetes awareness campaign, World Diabetes Day reaches a global audience of more than a billion people in over 160 countries around the world. The campaign seeks to draw attention to issues around diabetes, keeping the condition in both the public and political spotlights.
Each year, World Diabetes Day revolves around a theme, which this year is 'The Nurse and Diabetes'. Past themes have included: 'Protect our Future', 'Go Blue For Breakfast' (a blue circle is the IDF's logo), 'Healthy Eating' and 'Women and Diabetes'. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, one of this year's World Diabetes Day activities is the '100 challenge', where participants are encouraged to complete an activity relating to the number 100, such as cycling for 100 miles, growing a beard for 100 days or even making 100 cupcakes!