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Home » Diabetes, EU Health

We need stronger political mobilisation and investment

Submitted by on 29 Sep 2016 – 11:21

Despite several political engagement efforts and the work of international and national diabetes associations across Europe,  Prof Sehnaz Karadeniz, Chair, IDF Europe, believes that the gravity of the situation is not fully understood by many of our national and European politicians

 It is too late to consider diabetes as a health issue alone. It has become an economic and social issue, too. The World Economic Forum has considered diabetes and other non-communicable diseases a clear threat to development and economic growth several years back, and the numbers of diabetes cases continue to grow beyond predictions.

The alarming scale of the diabetes pandemic has also been recognised at a global level by the 2006 UN Resolution, as well as the UN Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases in 2011. At the European level, several texts have been adopted, including the European Council conclusions on type 2 Diabetes (June 2006) and a European Parliament (EP) Resolution on addressing the diabetes epidemic (March 2012). In April 2016, the EP adopted, with 405 signatures, a written declaration on diabetes, urging the European Commission and the European Council to prioritise diabetes in EU health policy, to encourage member states to develop national diabetes plans and, crucially, calling on the European Commission and European Council to develop an EU diabetes strategy through an EU Council Recommendation on diabetes prevention, diagnosis and control.

All these resolutions and declarations, however, will make a positive change in the everyday lives of people with diabetes or people at risk for diabetes, only if national governments “internalise” them and take necessary actions in line with them. This can only be achieved by political will, structured diabetes programs and their implementation, with monitoring being an essential component.

The International Diabetes Federation European Region (IDF Europe) organises awareness-raising activities mainly on the occasion of World Diabetes Day (14 November, an official United Nations Day), takes part in several platforms and participates in debates at the EU and pan-European level to contribute to the lives of the 60 million people living with diabetes in Europe, 32 million of which in the EU, and to prevent diabetes in people at high risk for the disease.

At the same time, initiatives such as the Diabetes Europe Roundtable 2016 “Reaching a consensus to prevent and control the prevalence of diabetes,” organised on 6 April 2016 by the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies, are very important to keep the political debate on diabetes on the agenda.

Politicians at the national and European level must be more engaged

Despite these political engagement efforts and the work of international and national diabetes associations across Europe, we believe that the gravity of the situation is not fully understood by many of our national and European politicians.

New and innovative approaches are urgently required across national policy, in care and management of diseases such as diabetes which are chronic by nature, and for healthcare delivery systems to adopt a more holistic approach to diabetes prevention and its management in affected people.

As IDF Europe, an inclusive and multicultural organisation of 70 national diabetes associations in 47 countries across Europe, 44 of which are based in the 28 EU countries, we believe we have an important role to play in achieving this goal. Together with our members, as civil society we wish to work more closely with politicians and policy makers to increase awareness, encourage health improvements and promote the exchange of best practices at national and European levels.

Through IMPACT diabetes, the Initiative to Mobilise Parliamentarians to Act, Prevent, Care and Treat diabetes, IDF Europe wishes to strengthen the mobilisation role of civil society, reinforce the knowledge of policy makers and position diabetes where it should be: high on the national and European agenda.

With IMPACT diabetes, we wish to contribute to a more informed political environment, where knowledge and understanding are provided by people living and working with diabetes so that effective policies for people with diabetes and those at risk are developed, adopted, financed, implemented and evaluated.

By reinforcing the role of and synergies with civil society, and by strengthening communication and advocacy skills, IMPACT diabetes aims to identify and disseminate successful national advocacy practices and contribute to putting diabetes at the centre of national and European policy making. Links to the European Union and the European office of the WHO increase the sustainability of outcomes and of investment in diabetes for all Europeans.

By sharing experiences about the successes and pitfalls of advocating for diabetes in different countries and regions, IMPACT diabetes aims at creating a network of diabetes campaigners and politicians across the European region with the capacity, skills and tools to mobilise policy measures, investment and political will to tackle the rising burden of diabetes. In 2014, for example, 30 out of the 47 countries in Europe had national diabetes plans or were addressing diabetes with a plan for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). The implementation of these plans have to be monitored and evaluated for their impact. Countries where there are no plans in place must be encouraged to take similar steps to mobilise resources for diabetes.

By channelling the political will and the expertise of civil society, IDF Europe will continue to positively IMPACT the prevention of diabetes and the care for people living with the condition across Europe

For more information about IDF Europe, please visit