MONTREAL, Canada, 19 October 2009 – The International Diabetes Federation’s 20th World Diabetes Congress opened today at the Palais de Congress in Montreal, Quebec. The five-day congress brings thousands of international delegates to the Canadian city to discuss burning issues in diabetes care and examine local, national and regional solutions to a growing global problem.
The first ever World Diabetes Congress was held in Leiden, the Netherlands in 1952. During its more than 50-year history, the event has evolved from a meeting of a few hundred to a mega-congress that has attracted 12,000 delegates, 400 speakers and Ministers of Health from IDF’s Africa, North America, Western Pacific, and Middle East and North Africa Regions. The congress is now well established as one of the most significant events of the global health calendar.
“Canada’s historical link with scientific excellence in diabetes care was a key contributing factor in our choice of venue for the Federation’s 20th World Diabetes Congress,” explained Professor Martin Silink, who finishes his three-year term as IDF President at the congress. “The global diabetes community has come to Canada to recognize the achievement of Frederick Banting and the research team that discovered insulin in 1921. It was a remarkable scientific achievement that brought life to millions.”
Professor Jean Claude Mbanya, incoming IDF President, added a stark reminder of the continued need for global advocacy to make life-sustaining insulin available to all: “If you are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes here in North America, your chances of survival and living a full life are extremely high. The same diagnosis in many low and middle-income countries, however, is a potential catastrophe. A child with type 1 diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa will likely live for only a few months. It is unacceptable that a drug discovered almost 90 years ago is still not accessible to everyone who needs it. It is a global shame that someone’s child, sibling or parent should be dying because Banting’s gift remains out of reach.”
Another factor that influenced the choice of venue was the growing significance of diabetes in North America. The region has one of the highest diabetes prevalence rates in the world, with over 9% of the adult population now living with diabetes. In Canada, 9.3% of adults currently have diabetes and this figure is expected to rise to 11.1% within twenty years. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association and Diabète Québec more than 3 million Canadians will be living with diabetes by 2010. In addition, more than 6 million Canadians have pre-diabetes, placing them at significant risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The publication of the latest figures for diabetes prevalence worldwide is one of the highlights of the IDF World Diabetes Congress that will also include the latest results from important clinical trials and diabetes studies, the publication of new guidelines and the most recent advances in diabetes treatment and technologies.
Ann Keeling, CEO of the International Diabetes Federation, described the congress as an essential forum for the dissemination and promotion of leading scientific research and an opportunity to address the global challenge of diabetes. “This congress unites the global diabetes community. We bring together healthcare professionals, scientists, government officials, people with diabetes and the associations that represent them to find solutions to the diabetes epidemic. We are all part of a movement that insists on change to improve global health. We are in this together.”