International Diabetes Federation calls for global action to keep all children with diabetes alive

October 13, 2008

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) announced today that it is bringing together key opinion leaders to push for action to secure care for the thousands of children with diabetes in developing countries without access to care.

The meeting, Access to Essential Diabetes Medicines for Children in the Developing World, will be held on Saturday, October 25 in London, United Kingdom. The International Diabetes Federation has invited Ministries of Health from various developing countries, leaders from the pharmaceutical industry, philanthropic foundations, leading supply-chain management firms, diabetes associations, as well as professional societies in paediatrics and diabetes education.

"We are bringing together the people and the organizations that can provide not only the interim humanitarian response to save lives but can lay the groundwork for sustainable solutions that will benefit all children with diabetes," said Dr Martin Silink, President of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).

Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases to affect children. Every day more than 200 children are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, requiring them to take multiple daily insulin shots and monitor the glucose levels in their blood. It is increasing at a rate of 3% each year among children and rising even faster in pre-school children at a rate of 5% per year. Currently, over 500,000 children under the age of 15 live with diabetes.

For children in the developing world with type 1 diabetes, the picture is bleak. Close to 75,000 children in low-income and lower-middle income countries are living with diabetes in desperate circumstances. These children need life-saving insulin to survive. Even more children are in need of the monitoring equipment, test strips and education required to manage their diabetes and avoid the life-threatening complications associated with the disease. A child's access to appropriate medication and care should be a right not a privilege.

"The stark reality is that many children in developing countries die soon after diagnosis," said Dr Jean-Claude Mbanya, President-Elect of the International Diabetes Federation. "It's been 87 years since the discovery of insulin, yet many of the world's most vulnerable citizens, including many children, die needlessly because of lack of access to this essential drug. This is a global shame. We owe it to future generations to address this issue now."

In many developing countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and some parts of Asia, life-saving diabetes medication and monitoring equipment is often unavailable or unaffordable. As a result, many children with diabetes die soon after diagnosis, or have poor control and quality of life, and develop the devastating complications of the disease early.

In order to support some of those children, the International Diabetes Federation created its Life for a Child Program in 2001. The program, which is operated in partnership with Diabetes Australia-NSW and HOPE worldwide, currently supports a total of 1000 children in Azerbaijan, Bolivia, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Fiji, India, Mali, Nepal, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Sudan, The United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe.

"The 1000 children that we support represent a pitifully small number of those in need," said Dr. Silink, who co-founded the Program. "It seems unthinkable that diabetes care remains beyond the reach of so many. Solutions are available now to address the issues of affordability and accessibility. The means exist to strengthen healthcare systems and provide the diabetes education of healthcare professionals and the families of those affected by diabetes to make a significant step forward."

The timing of the London meeting is no accident, falling as it does just ahead of World Diabetes Day, November 14. The theme of the United Nations Health Day is diabetes in children and adolescents. The campaign led by the International Diabetes Federation with the endorsement of the World Health Organization sets out to establish the message that no child should die of diabetes.
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Note to editors:

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is an umbrella organization of over 200 member associations in more than 160 countries, advocating for the more than 250 million people with diabetes, their families, and their healthcare providers. Its mission is to promote diabetes care, prevention and a cure worldwide. The International Diabetes Federation is an NGO in official relations with the World Health Organization and an associated NGO with the United Nations Department of Public Information. The International Diabetes Federation leads the World Diabetes Day and Unite for Diabetes campaigns. Additional information is available at www.idf.org

International Diabetes Federation

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