Families demand government action to halt the growing diabetes epidemic

24 September 2018

New research from IDF reveals only 17%of people believe their government is doing enough to tackle diabetes.

The growing diabetes epidemic will be an important topic when the United Nations General Assembly meets to discuss non-communicable diseases on September 27. Ahead of the meeting, new research from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) reveals only 17%of people believe their government is doing enough to tackle diabetes.1

Diabetes caused more than four million deaths last year and is a leading global cause of heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-limb amputation. If current lifestyle trends continue, the numbers living with diabetes is expected to rise rapidly to more than 500 million people, or one in ten of the global population within a decade.2 Most people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. In many cases, up to 80% in some studies, type 2 diabetes can be prevented.

Despite the scale of the problem, there is a lack of urgency to reverse the trend. In 2014, governments committed to achieving a 0% increase in diabetes and obesity by 2025. Several years further on, and only five countries have said they are on track to achieve this goal. Families want to see governments do more.

The UN’s third high-level meeting on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which include significant killer diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer, is a final chance to evaluate global and national progress towards achieving agreed targets. One important government commitment is to achieve a 30% reduction in early mortality from NCDs by 2030. NCDs are responsible for close to 40 million deaths each year, or 70% of all deaths. This is more than ten times the number killed by HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis combined.

“The cost of diabetes is significant to individuals and society,” Said Professor Nam H. Cho, President of the International Diabetes Federation. “Behind the staggering numbers are the untold stories of many individuals trying to manage their diabetes and prevent the devastating complications associated with it. Improving awareness, investing in education to promote prevention early diagnosis and treatment, and ensuring affordable access to medication and care is critical to controlling the epidemic. Governments must do more and now is the time for them to take responsibility and be accountable.”

Many people do not believe enough is being done to implement cost-effective programmes and policies to prevent type 2 diabetes. These include education campaigns to promote healthier lifestyle choices. IDF is urging governments to use existing financial resources to ensure essential diabetes medicines and supplies such as insulin are accessible and affordable. Nearly 100 years after insulin was first used successfully to treat diabetes, many people with diabetes, particularly those in low and middle-income countries, struggle to access a reliable supply. People with type 1 diabetes need insulin to stay alive.

"For me, insulin is a matter of life or death," said Apoorva Gomber, an IDF Young Leader in Diabetes from India who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2009. "I am fortunate to be able to access the insulin and care that I require to live a healthy life, free of complications, but for many like me it is too expensive or out of reach. That is unacceptable."

The greatest demand for action is in developing countries. In Brazil, India and South Africa more than half of the population (58%, 56% and 51% respectively) don’t believe their governments are doing enough.3

IDF welcomes all the international commitments on diabetes that have been made over the last few years and acknowledges that some advances have taken place. However, it is clear that urgent action is still needed to achieve the 2025 and 2030 targets. The health and wellbeing of future generations is at stake.


  1. This information is taken from the International Diabetes Federation World Diabetes Day 2018 Report, delivered by Arlington Research. This research was conducted in seven countries; The United Kingdom, China, India, South Africa, Turkey and the United States of America with a minimum of 1000 people interviewed in each region. The full report can be made available upon request
  2. International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas, 8th edn. Brussels, Belgium:
    International Diabetes Federation, 2017.
  3. International Diabetes Federation World Diabetes Day 2018 Report
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