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1 July 2014

Parliamentarians across Europe unite to act on diabetes

Parliamentarians, leading diabetes organizations and experts from across Europe have joined forces to form the Policy Action Network on Diabetes (ExPAND) to drive a new generation of policies to address the diabetes epidemic.

Launched in November 2011, the ExPAND network will now be led by the International Diabetes Federation Europe (IDF Europe). The umbrella organization will work closely with British MP Adrian Sanders, Chair of ExPAND and President of the IDF Parliamentarians for Diabetes Global Network.

While there are many partnerships between associations of people with diabetes, healthcare professionals, health ministers and other key stakeholders, ExPAND is the first initiative of its kind in Europe. Its goal is to build a strong network of parliamentarians to act on diabetes at local, national and European levels.

“ExPAND fills an important gap”, says Adrian Sanders MP. “By engaging with parliamentarians across Europe, we are confident we can raise the profile of diabetes as a public health priority, exchange best practice and provide evidence to trigger concrete political action to reverse the diabetes epidemic.”

Today more than 56 million people live with diabetes in Europe, representing 8.5% of the adult population in the region. Estimates suggest an additional 21.2 million people are yet to be diagnosed. Governments across Europe spend a staggering 10 to 20% of their total health budgets on treating diabetes annually.

Beyond the considerable economic burden it brings on societies and healthcare systems, diabetes has devastating consequences when undiagnosed or left untreated. Diabetes is reponsible for one in ten deaths in Europe, and is also the leading cause of blindness, amputations, kidney failure and stroke.

“No country in Europe has managed to prevent the diabetes epidemic from rising. We need to make sure governments across the region no longer question the need to adopt comprehensive policies to prevent, diagnose and give access to quality diabetes treatment to those who need it”, commented João Nabais, President of IDF Europe.   

The immediate priority of the ExPAND network will be to strengthen the coalition of parliamentarians and advocates for policy action on diabetes at national and European levels. Members of the network will also focus on forging a better understanding of diabetes in parliaments and assemblies across Europe, and of the policies needed to address the epidemic.

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