One of IDF Europe's main activities is policy and advocacy at the regional and national level.
At regional level, the main targets of IDF Europe are the EU Institutions (European Parliament and European Commission), the Council of Europe and the World Health Organization European Region.
At national level, the Federation acts as a bridge for its Members by informing them on the latest policy developments Europe-wide. This way, national members can perfom their policy and advocay activities at national level, using regional activities as a reference.
Interview with Florian Toiti, President of the Shoqata e Diabetit
IDF Europe Prize in Diabetes 2016 long standing achievement
Can you shortly describe your association?
Our Association Shoqata e Diabetit (Albanian Diabetes Association) is an IDF member since 1991. It started as a scientific association but was open to people with diabetes. In the past 25 years, five of our Association's presidents had diaberes, four were doctors, and others have family members with Diabetes. Today, the association has more than 4.600 members (people with diabetes and healthcare professionals) and 3 full time staff.
The association is organizing training sessions for physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and for the last two years, education programmes for people with diabetes. More than 1000 consultations are performed yearly at the Association's office with endocrinologists working as volunteers. Also, more than 3500-4000 people are screened yearly during screening campaigns organized each year, in November, throughout the country.
What does this prize represent for you organization?
This prize is the result of years of hard work, not always in the best conditions with lack of financial resources, of support from donors, of understanding from colleagues, and a general misjudgment from health policy makers. But little by little, we achieved to increase the number of members, our programmes, and to build a network with other partners having the same goal – to better help people with diabetes, and to raise awareness on diabetes.
This prize will be a strong stimulation for us to do more and better every single day to achieve our goal – a better diabetes management, greater empowerment for people with diabetes, and a national strategy on diabetes prevention and treatment.
What are the main changes you have seen in diabetes prevention and management at the national level in the last 15 years?
In the last 15, and especially the last 10 ones, we have witnessed an increase of the awareness of healthcare professionals and at the Ministry of Health on diabetes. This is the result of the work work we have done in relation with people withd diabetes, endocrinologists and media. In the last 5 years, we have been organizing activities on Diabetes all year around, not only around World Diabetes Day.
The second major achievement is the enlargement of the number of medicines dedicated to diabetes rembursed. The list now includes insulin analogs (for type 1 and type 2 diabetes) new and ”old drugs”, such as Vildagliptin, Acarbose, Glimepiride, and also the possibility for endocrinologists to better treat people with diabetes for cardiovascular risk factors including HTA and dislipidemia.
But the major change, and our greatest achievement has been to include people with diabetes as active participants in our association. They now work as volunteers, spoke persons, and examples for others. They are active partners of our forums, screening campaigns, training programmes, and press conferences.
What tool(s) do you use to promote diabetes prevention and awareness at the policy maker level and at the general public one?
We are using a lot of different tools to promote diabetes. Our members send letters to their local members of Parliament. We also translate and publish posters, leaflets related to diabetes. We take part in interviews and articles dedicated to diabeets in the press, we invite and solicit policy makers to do more and to understand the economic, social and health burden of diabetes. We use facebook, emails ect.
We also organise events linked to the World Diabetes Day like press conferences (2010, 2012, 2013), a hearing session at the Health Commission of Parliament on 14th November 2014, annual scientific conferences on November since 2007 ect. Every year we try to add some new elements in our campaign for the World Diabetes Day.
What is next for your association?
We are lacking of young people with diabetes in our Association. We are trying our best to include them by inviting them and discuss different issues of interest to them: diabetes new treatments, continuous glucose monitoring, diet consultations etc.
We need to do more to increase our visibility and accessibilty for people with diabetes in cities outside of Tirana, the capital city. We are planning to have our website available for the beginning of next year.
We are also advocating our policy makers to include more elements in the reimbursement scheme: strips, Glucagon, needles, as well as other new treatments to have a standardized and available HbA1C measurement throughout the country, education units in at least six other regional hospitals, more materials and training for Healthcare Professionals (and not only physicians).
Our special focus for the last two years has been in children with Diabetes. We are collaborating with some Pediatric and endrocine hospital units to create a “ first days -survival kit” to be provided to every new kid diagnosed with diabetes. We hope that we can initiate this programme in the coming year.