Worldwide wake-up call

Diabetes is the unresolved development issue of the 21st century

The newly released 6th edition of IDF Diabetes Atlas reports that the number of people living with diabetes rose cataclysmically to 382 million in 2013. Our evidence shows that diabetes prevalence will skyrocket by 2035. By that time, nearly 600 million people will live with diabetes, and approximately 470 million will have impaired glucose tolerance. Put another way – 1 in every 8 people worldwide, 1 billion people, will live with or be at risk of diabetes.

For the 21st century diabetes is a wake-up call.

These astounding statistics do nothing to represent the all-to-often preventable death of one man, woman or child from all forms of diabetes. Statistics have a way of becoming faceless revelations, the scope of which unjustly diminishes the significance of millions of lost lives, as well as the plight of poverty and suffering attributable to diabetes.

Diabetes in all its destructive forms is not only a health crisis. It is an unresolved development issue for low- to middle-income countries worldwide.  There is no economic advantage or political usefulness in ignoring the diabetes pandemic, but statistical evidence asserts our world is doing just that.  

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and its Member Associations battle against the steady rise of diabetes. We have a formidable arsenal of tools – preventive strategies, life-saving therapies, and the dedicated activity of a global consortium of advocates, experts, researchers and medical professionals. Despite this we are losing the fight to protect both people at risk and without care, but also economic growth and stability for developing countries.

In 2011, history was made with the adoption of the UN Political Declaration on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) which included diabetes. In November of 2012, UN member states agreed on the first-ever comprehensive Global Monitoring Framework for the Prevention and Control of NCDs including a set of voluntary global targets and indicators to stop the rise in chronic killers like diabetes and obesity. In 2013, foundations of the global NCD architecture to accelerate progress were adopted. The approved set of nine global targets and 25 indicators are milestone achievements. They send a strong message that all countries must be committed to a reduction in premature deaths from NCDs, by 25% by 2025.

Advancing voluntary global targets at a time when political agendas are rich with a variety of competing interests can instigate opposition. Our greatest challenge to fostering government action will be providing political leaders and policy makers with strong evidence for taking on and achieving the UN NCD targets. This is an integral part of IDF’s Global Advocacy objective.

It is with great admiration that we can celebrate a sign of progress just on the heels of World Congress in Melbourne. The Melbourne Declaration on Diabetes was officially launched on 4 December 2013. It was agreed and signed by 50 parliamentarians. They are committed to ensuring diabetes is high on the political agenda in every country, encouraging prevention, early diagnosis, management and access to adequate care, treatment and medicines.

I would like to pay tribute to Guy Barnett who worked hard to bring the parliamentary forum together in Melbourne. My gratitude goes out to Hon. Judi Moylan, who has generously accepted being IDF’s Global Coordinator of our Global Network of Parliamentary Champions for Diabetes along with British MP Adrian Sanders as President. Simon Busutti MP, of Malta and Dr. Rachel Nyamai MP, from Kenya will serve as Vice-Presidents. With their leadership, and the commitment from other parliamentarians worldwide, IDF’s mission will achieve greater gains. Our challenge is global, and now with a global response at the highest level we must succeed in garnering appropriate attention, support and funding to quell the rise in diabetes worldwide.

IDF President, Editorial, The Melbourne Declaration on Diabetes, UN Political Declaration on Non-communicable Diseases, NCDs, diabetes