First United Nations World Diabetes Day Unites Global Diabetes Community to Fight the Epidemic

    NEW YORK, Nov. 13 /CNW/ - On the first United Nations World Diabetes Day,
the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) calls on governments to develop
national policies for the prevention, care and treatment of diabetes and calls
on donors worldwide to consider the need for a diabetes global fund to tackle
the growing diabetes epidemic.
    Speaking at the World Diabetes Day press conference, Dr Martin Silink,
President of the International Diabetes Federation, explained that policy
change and increased funding will be required to curb the growth of diabetes.
"Diabetes is now seen as a serious threat to global health. It is one of the
most devastating epidemics the world has seen," said Dr Silink, "yet diabetes
funding is dismally insufficient in comparison to other diseases."
    November 14 marks the first observance of the existing World Diabetes Day
by the United Nations. At the end of last year, the UN General Assembly passed
Resolution 61/225. The resolution establishes November 14 as an officially
observed UN world day from this year, making diabetes only the second disease
after HIV/AIDS to have an official UN day.
    The World Diabetes Day resolution describes diabetes as "a threat to
families, member states and the entire world." For the first time a
non-infectious disease is seen as posing as serious a threat to global health
as the infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. IDF and
WHO figures indicate that over 246 million people now have diabetes worldwide.
This number is set to reach 380 million by 2025 if significant action is not
    Speaking at today's press conference held in New York City to mark the
first United Nations World Diabetes Day, IDF President-Elect Jean-Claude
Mbanya explained why widespread apathy in the face of the growing diabetes
threat has contributed to the diabetes epidemic: "Diabetes was long dismissed
as 'nothing serious' a 'touch of sugar', or a 'disease of the elderly and the
rich'. For years the growing threat of diabetes went largely ignored.
Successive generations failed to act decisively. Diabetes slipped in under the
radar unnoticed to become a global health catastrophe." According to Dr
Mbanya, the time is right to take action to address the diabetes threat: "The
political momentum generated by the World Diabetes Day Resolution, the
coordinated advocacy of a strong diabetes community and the availability of
cheap medication have created the opportunity for governments to implement
policies to prevent diabetes and its complications."
    Diabetes affects 6% of the global adult population. It is a leading cause
of blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and amputation. Every
year, over 3.8 million deaths are due to diabetes, making diabetes a more
significant global killer than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined. Every 10 seconds
a person dies from diabetes-related causes. In that same 10 seconds, two
people develop the disease.
    Diabetes is an expensive condition, with wide-ranging costs for
individuals, for families and for healthcare systems. It threatens to
undermine economic growth, particularly in developing countries, which
currently shoulder most of the diabetes burden.
    Current spending to treat and prevent diabetes is estimated at more than
US$232 billion each year. This will balloon to more than US$302 billion each
year within 20 years. More than 80% of this investment is made in the world's
most developed countries. The majority of all people with diabetes (70% of the
total), however, are found in the developing countries.
    Despite the size and seriousness of the diabetes epidemic, it has not
attracted significant funding from donors. Overseas Development Aid to the
health sector, for example, reached US$2.9 billion in 2002. Most of that
US$2.9 billion went to support infectious diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS. Of
the global total, only 0.1% was available to fund all non-communicable chronic
diseases including diabetes.
    While the passage of the Resolution has created great political momentum,
significant financial resources will be required to address the diabetes
epidemic meaningfully. Recognizing this need, the International Diabetes
Federation is exploring the possibility of establishing a global financing
facility for diabetes, based on an analysis of existing global health
financing mechanisms and consultations with a diverse group of stakeholders.
    Wrapping up the press conference, Dr Silink emphasized that: "A fully
implemented national plan to treat and prevent diabetes should be a right for
everyone. It is time," continued the IDF President "to make a significant
difference for the 246 million people living with diabetes and to introduce
effective strategies for the prevention of diabetes itself."

    Broadcast videos are available at:

    Note to Editors

    The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is an umbrella organization
of over 200 member associations in more than 160 countries, representing
almost 250 million people with diabetes, their families, and their healthcare
providers. The mission of the IDF is to promote diabetes care, prevention and
a cure worldwide. Its main activities include education for people with
diabetes and healthcare professionals, public awareness campaigns and the
promotion and exchange of information. IDF is a non-governmental organization
in official relations with WHO and associated to the United Nations'
Department of Public Information. For more information, please visit

    Introduced by IDF and the World Health Organization in 1991, World
Diabetes Day has been celebrated by diabetes representative organizations
worldwide ever since. The date of 14 November was chosen because it marks the
birthday of Frederick Banting, who, along with Charles Best, is credited with
the discovery of insulin. UN Resolution 61/225 establishes November 14 as a
United Nations observed day from 2007. Visit
for further information about the campaign and for a full list of landmarks
that will light up.

    (i) Diabetes Atlas, 3rd ed. International Diabetes Federation, 2006;1: 19

For further information:

For further information: For media inquiries, please contact: Kerrita
McClaughlyn, IDF Media Relations Coordinator,, +1-203-962-1222
and +32-487-530-625; or Phil Riley, IDF Communications Manager,

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