The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) today announced that its President, Professor Martin Silink has called on governments worldwide to recognize the severe impact of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases and take immediate action to ameliorate the threat.
Speaking today at the ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review Regional Ministerial Meeting on NonCommunicable Diseases in Doha, Qatar on May 10-11, Professor Silink urged governments, the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to recognize the impact of non-communicable diseases including diabetes on global health, and to include them in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and development aid programs.
President Silink stated that non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and chronic respiratory diseases account for 60% of all deaths worldwide, with the majority of these deaths occurring in low-and middle-income countries . Non-communicable diseases are a major and growing economic burden to individuals and their families and impose a heavy toll on healthcare systems and society. Despite the growing disease burden of non-communicable diseases, they have not been included in the MDGs.
“The global epidemic of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases is hitting the poorest hardest. Four in five deaths from NCDs now occur in low and middle-income countries. The low-cost solutions to prevent many of these deaths are yet to be implemented. Without decisive action, the NCD burden threatens to undermine the benefits of improving standards of living, education and economic growth in many countries,” said Silink.
“The global diabetes community,” Silink added “is waiting for UN Member States to follow through on the promise of the UN Resolution on diabetes.”
In 2006 the United Nations passed UN Resolution 61/225: World Diabetes Day, which recognized that “diabetes is a chronic, debilitating and costly disease associated with severe complications, which poses severe risks for families, Member States and the entire world and serious challenges to the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.”
Diabetes in the Gulf
The invitation to the International Diabetes Federation’s President recognizes the growing concern about diabetes worldwide and particularly the staggering impact the disease is having in the Gulf Region, where the picture is especially alarming. Of the top 10 countries with the highest prevalence of diabetes, five are in the Gulf. In 2007, the diabetes prevalence rate in Qatar was 15.2%, 15.2% in Bahrain, 19.5% in the United Arab Emirates, 15.7% in Saudi Arabia, 14.4% in Kuwait and 13.1% in Oman. By 2025, these rates will rise respectively to 16.9%, 17%, 21.9%, 18.4%, 16.4% and 14.7%.
Recognizing the impact of diabetes in the Region, IDF will hold its 21st World Diabetes Congress in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in 2011. The IDF Congress is organized every two years through seven world regions and is one the world’s largest health conferences. The Federation has committed to Dubai because progressive urbanization, increased life expectancy and economic development associated with a shift to unhealthy lifestyle have resulted in a huge explosion in type 2 diabetes in the Middle East and North Africa over the last 30 years.
IDF’s Commitment to Addressing Non-Communicable Diseases
The Federation is working to raise awareness of the growing diabetes burden and catalyse political action to reverse the epidemic. The Federation is also working closely with other NGOs concerned with NCDs.
The International Diabetes Federation will co-host a meeting on May 19 in parallel to the World Health Assembly to highlight the impact of NCDs on development. IDF is hosting this meeting with the World Heart Federation and the International Union Against Cancer to ensure that the NCD message is heard.
According to the WHO, the global burden of non-communicable diseases continues to grow; tackling it constitutes one of the major challenges for development in the 21st century .
“It is time to act,” said Professor Silink. “It is time for the world to provide essential medicines for non-communicable diseases like diabetes in the same way as it has addressed the need to provide essential medicines and vaccines for communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.”