From words to action

As the authentic global voice of diabetes, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) has achieved much in fixing diabetes firmly on the international political agenda. Diabetes and other Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) are now recognised as leading threats to development in the 21st century and to the success of the United Nations’ ambition to eradicate poverty.

But our work is very far from over. We showed determination in securing the UN Resolution on Diabetes, we were resolute in our campaigning for the UN High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases. Now we must remain determined to ensure that political promises turn into practical action on the ground to help people living with or under the threat of diabetes.

At the World Health Assembly in Geneva last month, the world’s governments agreed a framework of time-bound targets for NCDs, including a breakthrough for IDF: the commitment to halt the rise in diabetes. I am not alone in considering this target to be the other side of ambitious. With literally hundreds of millions with IGT or early evidence of the metabolic syndrome, the conveyor belt of new cases of diabetes will grind on relentlessly. Better care and treatment should mean that people with diabetes live longer, thus increasing the total number of those with the disease. Halting the rise in diabetes will be a colossal challenge, and will require huge commitment by governments in effective primary prevention measures.

IDF is currently working on a powerful tool to help our Member Associations in every region monitor the progress of their governments against their promises made in Geneva. The Diabetes Scorecard will be launched later this year.

The Board of IDF and I are passionate about strengthening our regions and providing member associations with the tools to do ever more for people with diabetes. So I am delighted that IDF’s regional focus will be reflected in Diabetes Voice which is a powerful channel for linking and learning about the challenges we face and the successes we achieve nationally across all IDF regions.

IDF’s number one publication also ensures the experience of living with diabetes cannot be ignored. Diabetes Voice will report on news and information from all parts of the world, and will discuss IDF’s progress and challenges related to the disease burden. Diabetes Voice will continue to inform members about key diabetes issues related to advocacy, society, technology and clinical development. Most significantly it will focus on the delivery of critical services for people affected with diabetes regardless of where they may live in the world. My hope is that there will be an abundance of success and trailblazing efforts to report in this triennium, 2013-2015.

The work of our Federation depends crucially upon our volunteers who give unstintingly of their time and expert knowledge, serving the cause of diabetes selflessly, whether in Member Associations, or IDF’s Board, Task Forces, Consultative Sections and expert working groups. Their contribution is hugely appreciated and will never be taken for granted.

One such magnificent volunteer was Professor Harry Keen who died in April. His illustrious career is briefly summarised in an obituary in News in Brief. A fellow trustee of Diabetes UK, I learned much from Harry, especially how much the committed volunteer could achieve for people with diabetes. He embodied all the virtues of the volunteer for diabetes, and we will miss his influence and passion, as well as his undiminished wit and wisdom.

Diabetes Voice is the collaborative work of all its expert volunteers and local champions. On behalf of the board of IDF, I thank our network of tireless contributors who are at the core of this magazine’s success. In welcoming Elizabeth Snouffer as editor, I also thank Tim Nolan for his outstanding contribution over eleven years.

Finally, I’d like to remind our readers about the World Diabetes Congress in Melbourne from 2-6 December 2013. Professor Paul Zimmet has assembled a brilliant international faculty, with new Streams, and important announcements will be made in Melbourne. The Convention Centre is outstanding, and in addition to the thousands of clinicians, healthcare professionals and representatives of Member Associations, we shall be joined by a new cohort of Young Leaders in Diabetes and Parliamentary Champions for Diabetes. It may be quite a long way to travel, but the Congress will certainly be worth attending! I’ll look forward to seeing you there.

Michael Hirst
President, International Diabetes Federation