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International Diabetes Federation Calls for Global Action to Keep All Children With Diabetes Alive

Monday, October 13, 2008 General News J E 4
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BRUSSELS, October 13 The International DiabetesFederation (IDF) announced today that it is bringing together key opinionleaders to push for action to secure care for the thousands of children withdiabetes in developing countries without access to care.

The meeting, Access to Essential Diabetes Medicines for Children in theDeveloping World, will be held on Saturday, October 25 in London, UnitedKingdom. The International Diabetes Federation has invited Ministries ofHealth from various developing countries, leaders from the pharmaceuticalindustry, philanthropic foundations, leading supply-chain management firms,diabetes associations, as well as professional societies in paediatrics anddiabetes education.

"We are bringing together the people and the organizations that canprovide not only the interim humanitarian response to save lives but can laythe groundwork for sustainable solutions that will benefit all children withdiabetes," said Dr Martin Silink, President of the International DiabetesFederation (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 glucoselevels in their blood. It is increasing at a rate of 3% each year amongchildren and rising even faster in pre-school children at a rate of 5% peryear. 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 isbleak. Close to 75,000 children in low-income and lower-middle incomecountries are living with diabetes in desperate circumstances. These childrenneed life-saving insulin to survive. Even more children are in need of themonitoring equipment, test strips and education required to manage theirdiabetes and avoid the life-threatening complications associated with thedisease. A child's access to appropriate medication and care should be aright not a privilege.

"The stark reality is that many children in developing countries die soonafter diagnosis," said Dr Jean-Claude Mbanya, President-Elect of theInternational Diabetes Federation. "It's been 87 years since the discovery ofinsulin, yet many of the world's most vulnerable citizens, including manychildren, 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 issuenow."

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

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

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

The timing of the London meeting is no accident, falling as it does justahead of World Diabetes Day, November 14. The theme of the United NationsHealth Day is diabetes in children and adolescents. The campaign led by theInternational Diabetes Federation with the endorsement of the World HealthOrganization sets out to establish the message that no child should die ofdiabetes.

Note to Editors:

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is an umbrella organizationof over 200 member associations in more than 160 countries, advocating forthe more than 250 million people with diabetes, their families, and theirhealthcare providers. Its mission is to promote diabetes care, prevention anda cure worldwide. The International Diabetes Federation is an NGO in officialrelations with the World Health Organization and an associated NGO with theUnited Nations Department of Public Information. The International DiabetesFederation leads the World Diabetes Day and Unite for Diabetes campaigns.Additional information is available at http://www.idf.org

SOURCE International Diabetes Federation (IDF)
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