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Diabetes surveillance and diabetes knowledge are the topics in the Journal of Health Monitoring

Press Release by Robert Koch Institute

"Diabetes is one of the most important chronic diseases in Germany and in many other countries and is therefore one of the major public health challenges," emphasises Prof. Dr. Lothar H. Wieler, President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on the occasion of the new issue of the Journal of Health Monitoring on the subject of diabetes surveillance in Germany. According to RKI data, an estimated 6.7 million adults in Germany are affected by diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes. Despite improved early detection and treatment, diabetes is still associated with serious complications for some of those affected. These include heart attacks and strokes, amputations of the lower extremities, blindness and end stage renal disease.

So far, little research has been undertaken in what people in Germany know about diabetes, what information they may require about the condition, and how they rate available information. A nationwide survey conducted by the RKI in close cooperation with the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) and the measurable variables (indicators) for national diabetes surveillance are topics in the Special Issue 3/2018 of the Journal of Health Monitoring.

More than 90 percent of people affected by diabetes rate their diabetes knowledge as good or very good. On the other hand, this applies to only about every second person without diabetes. While people affected by diabetes would like more information on the subject of treatment and therapy, people without diabetes are primarily interested in more information on lifestyle changes, health promotion and disease prevention. About half of all adults find it difficult to judge the trustworthiness of media information on diabetes – regardless of whether they have diabetes or not.

The RKI began setting up a diabetes surveillance system in 2015 and the project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Health. In the future, the diabetes surveillance should serve as a model for extending surveillance activities to other important chronic diseases. "Continuous surveillance is an important prerequisite for the development and evaluation of evidence-based health policy measures, in particular for prevention," stresses Wieler.
To establish efficient surveillance structures, indicators that appropriately capture and measure the dynamics of a disease over time are needed. A comprehensive and sustainable set of indicators was defined through a multi-stage process involving national and international experts. It comprises 30 core and 10 additional indicators in four fields of activity: (1) reducing diabetes risk, (2) improving diabetes early detection and treatment, (3) reducing diabetes complications and (4) reducing disease burden and overall costs of the disease. Examples of indicators include smoking, participation rate in the disease management programme, diabetes-related amputations and years of life lost. Indicators are based on RKI health monitoring data as well as on routine data from the health care system.

An international workshop on public health surveillance activities and prevention strategies for chronic diseases, with focus on diabetes, will take place at the RKI in Berlin on 7 and 8 June. This workshop is organised by the RKI and the BZgA.

Further information: www.rki.de/journalhealthmonitoring-en & www.rki.de/diabetes-en

Date: 06.06.2018