International Diabetes Federation calls for more education to stem diabetes epidemic


By: Russell Phillips

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF), established in 1950, is an umbrella organization that includes over 200 national diabetes associations in over 160 countries. It is currently holding its World Diabetes Conference, a biennial event, in Montreal, as well as preparing once again to sponsor World Diabetes Day on November 14. “Diabetes education and prevention” is the theme of the World Diabetes Day campaign for the next five years.

According to data released by the IDF on Monday in Montreal, 285 million people around the world are now living with diabetes and its complications. By 2030, the IDF estimates, the total may reach 435 million. This staggering number seems even more disastrous when one considers that people with diabetes are responsible for 95 percent of their own care.

“There are millions of people making complex daily medical decisions regarding their diabetes without proper education or, in many cases, with no education,” said Marg McGill, IDF Senior Vice President and Chair of the IDF Consultative Section on Diabetes Education (DECS), on Tuesday at the IDF Global Education Agenda Press Conference at the World Congress on Diabetes. 

Diabetes is the leading cause of heart attack, blindness, kidney failure, and amputation.  But because it is a non-communicable disease, funding for diabetes education and treatment lags behind research funding for communicable diseases like HIV/Aids and malaria. 

To help make education about diabetes, its complications, and its prevention more accessible, culturally relevant, and standardized, the IDF has produced the International Standards for Diabetes Education, 3rd Edition. The guide is designed as a benchmark for educators as well as policy advisors and decision makers.

“These Standards provide a basis to ensure that the education and support received by individuals with diabetes and those at risk for diabetes are of the highest quality”, said Martha Funnell, Chair of the Standards Revision Committee. When asked by Diabetes Health what the biggest challenge was in creating and revising the Standards, she replied, “How do we effectively convey our message to patients so they can use it in their everyday lives?” 

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IDF press conference, Montreal, Canada, October 20, 2009

IDF Diabetes Atlas, International Diabetes Federation, 2009



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