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Making it easier to do the right thing

Submitted by on 30 Sep 2016 – 15:57

AstraZeneca believes there is an urgent need for active political action and evidence based policy solutions in treating diabetes milieus. AstraZeneca elaborates on its policy forums and activities to address patients’ unmet needs

Global and national policies have failed to stop, and in many cases have contributed to, the increasing diabetes prevalence that we witness at the moment. (1) In the area of diabetes, alarming numbers of people suffer from and are at risk of developing the disease in Europe. (2)  Sadly, in the arena of public health, where changes are required to avert this situation, political action is limited and often insufficient. At AstraZeneca, we believe this can change through multi-stakeholder supported efforts in translating existing evidence into best practices for political and clinical action.

Political inertia?

The World Health Organization first put focus on ‘neglected chronic diseases’ in 2005 (3), and most recently facilitated broad commitment behind the new Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) in September, 2015 in New York. (4) Critics flagged that the 17 goals with 169 targets of the SDGs is a wish-list underpinning political inertia rather than a much needed action plan. (5) And while widespread government spending cuts may further reduce chances of successful SDG action, it is still too early to assess the extent to which European governments may act individually or with EU support, particularly in areas of strengthening chronic disease prevention and management.

Too often though, we hear from stakeholders that the needed political visions – and budgets – are not to be expected.  One of the most fundamental explanations for this is the duration of the political cycle.  With governments and politicians sitting only for 4 or 5 years, it takes courage and commitment to spend resources on a public health policy that reaps benefits in the long term. As an example, take national prevention programs in diabetes:

Why have less than a handful of European countries implemented these when we know that 1) increasing numbers of people develop and suffer from diabetes and its complications in Europe (6); 2) the cost of treating diabetes and its complications is spiralling ever higher (7) and 3) that prevention programs are cost-effective, and can save lives and tax payers’ money (8)? The same could be said about other much needed policy areas in diabetes, such as earlier diagnosis and treatment where we have the evidence but still see little action on the ground.

How can we help?

At AstraZeneca, we are active across many chronic disease areas to advocate for more policy action to address patients’ unmet needs. As one of numerous examples of this, we work with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), Primary Care Diabetes Europe (PCDE) and the World Heart Federation (WHF) to advocate among policy makers for translating current evidence from global literature into real action on the ground. We call the campaign “Early Action in Diabetes,” and it focuses on prevention, diagnosis and management of diabetes. It was launched in November, 2015 in Barcelona, and during 2016, we will host national policy workshops in around 15 European countries – with a further 20 policy workshops around the world. The outcome of these will be presented at a global policy forum in Berlin, December 13th and 14th, 2016, which will be organised with global partners, currently including the IDF, PCDE and the WHF.

This forum provides policy makers and policy advocates a common platform to gather and share better practices in policies supporting prevention, diagnosis and management of diabetes. More than 35 countries will be present, and we invite you to approach us if you are interested in learning more and perhaps participating at this crucial global forum. With partners, we anticipate a follow-up global forum in 2017 in Rome to review the status of development and implementation of policies that will have a real impact on the ground


1. Raising the Priority of Preventing Chronic Diseases: A Political Process, The Lancet, Vol. 376, No. 9753, p1689-1698, 13 Nov 2010

2. International Diabetes Federation, IDF Diabetes Atlas Seventh Edition, 2015, p.74

3. The Neglected Epidemic of Chronic Diseases, Volume 366, No. 9496, p1514, 29 October 2005

4. Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,

5. Experts Divided over Value of UN Sustainable Development Goals, Financial Times, Sep 15th, 2015.

6. International Diabetes Federation, IDF Diabetes Atlas Seventh Edition, 2015, p.74

7. International Diabetes Federation, IDF Diabetes Atlas Seventh Edition, 2015, p.74-75

8. The Diabetes Epidemic and its Impact on Europe, P.10-11,