Social justice for vulnerable communities

IDF joins the UN in marking World Social Justice Day on 20 February and supports UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for the world to “chart a development path that leads to greater social justice”.

In pursuit of this mission, IDF underlines the plight of many underserved indigenous communities around the world who continue to face urgent health challenges and decreased life expectancies due to inequalities in standards of care.

Indigenous communities remain marginalized and are the frequent victims of social and economic discrimination, as well as human rights violations. Indigenous populations fare poorly in assessments of economic, social, educational or health status – whichever indicators are applied.

As highlighted by Professor Martin Silink, past president of IDF, in 2006, indigenous people are suffering disproportionately the global epidemic of diabetes and related non-communicable diseases resulting in large part from the loss of their traditional lifestyles but also because they carry a greater genetic risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

IDF’s quarterly magazine, Diabetes Voice reported that indigenous communities in the Pacific Islands are under threat due to the erosion of their food security. With an increased reliance on imported food stuffs, including high-fat meats that previously did not form part of their diet, islanders are at severely increased risk from type 2 diabetes. With limited access to essential care and education, a diagnosis is made too late in many cases – when disabling and life-threatening complications are already present.

On 1-2 March, diabetes and NCD experts from around the world will convene in Copenhagen to identify specific areas of intervention to address prevention and access to care for indigenous populations. Professor Jean Claude Mbanya, IDF President and other IDF experts will address the scale of the diabetes epidemic and its impact on indigenous peoples and will discuss ways to counteract the challenge. Professor Mbanya will also lead a stream discussing nutrition and maternal health issues and their linkages to diabetes.

As part of IDF's continued commitment to highlighting needs of vulnerable communities on a global stage, the World Diabetes Congress in 2013 will dedicate a stream to indigenous people and diabetes.

IDF calls on all stakeholders to acknowledge the threat diabetes and NCDs pose to vulnerable communities. We encourage cooperative and collaborative broad-based approaches by all stakeholders, including indigenous people and organisations, to help prevent this problem and to develop better methods of earlier detection and improved treatment and follow-up for those who have diabetes.

We believe diabetes and related NCDs should be key targets for reducing health inequality globally. Going forward from the 2015 deadline of the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), IDF and the NCD Alliance demand that diabetes and NCDs be included in the renewed goals. For more information on diabetes and the MDGs see here.

IDF – setting the gold standard for diabetes care
In 2011, IDF produced the first ever International Charter of Rights and Responsibilities of People with Diabetes was produced by IDF in 2011. It builds on major human rights instruments and sets the gold standard in care, information and education and social justice for all people with diabetes.

Photo credit: Michelle Gutierez,