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World Health Day Launch Event – Diabetes

07 Apr 2016

Today, the World Heart Federation advocacy team attended the launch event for World Health Day, which saw the WHO issue a call to action on diabetes. The launch took place in the Executive Board room at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.



Director-General of the WHO Dr Margaret Chan opened the event by stating that diabetes is a disease which ‘deserves more attention’, and called the impact it has on health systems and health budgets ‘staggering’.

The number of adults living with diabetes rose to 422 million people in 2014, however insulin, an essential treatment for diabetes, is generally available in only 23% of lower-income countries.

Among the speakers at the event were researcher and lecturer at the University of Geneva, Dr David Beran, who called access to diabetes prevention and control an issue of equity. He added that insulin should be an essential part of universal health coverage packages, emphasizing that insulin was originally discovered almost a century ago.

Dr Shaukat Sadikot, President of the International Diabetes Federation, also emphasized the urgency of combatting the current epidemic, saying that one person dies from diabetes every 6 seconds.

Two women living with diabetes also shared their experience of the disease. One of them, Florence Banda, an advocate and Young Leader in Diabetes from Zambia, described how she was obliged to queue at 4am, four hours before a clinic opened, in order to try to access insulin injections. She called for greater public awareness and increased health worker knowledge and training on diabetes.

Dr Margaret Chan concluded the event by calling on those in the room to take action, and to ‘walk the talk’.

You can read the recently published WHO Global Report on Diabetes, here.