By: Nicole Johnson
2007 is in full swing, and we in the diabetes community have much to celebrate. The accomplishments in the realms of government and diabetes advocacy alone are cause enough.
Last year, we celebrated milestones in school advocacy and health insurance. We won support for stem cell research and the support of agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (they listed the artificial pancreas as a critical pathway of the future). And we witnessed the mobilization of a diabetes grassroots army in Washington, D.C., at the 2006 Call to Congress.
With all this success, though, there is still work to be done. We still need to find a cure for diabetes. We still need better access to care for all people living with diabetes. We still have loopholes in the insurance industry that make diabetes care impossible for some. And we also have our work cut out for us in terms of disaster preparedness.
An Exciting Time for Diabetes Legislation
With all these challenges, 2007 looks to be an exciting time. In June 2007, the JDRF will hold their fifth Children’s Congress. This event will bring 150 children from across the country to Washington, D.C., asking Congress to “promise to remember them” by supporting key diabetes legislative initiatives.
Early in the next Congressional session, legislation relating to gestational diabetes will be presented. There will also continue to be legislation seeking increased access to and support for stem cell research. It is expected that the stem cell bill from 2006 will be reintroduced. In addition, diabetes organizations will continue to battle for more dollars for this disease.
In 2007, the ADA and JDRF, along with other supporters, may ask for a renewal and increase in funding ($200 million) for each group per year for the next five years. The current special funding expires in 2008. An increase in funding—on any front—will help the 21 million Americans with diabetes in dramatic ways. In late 2006, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases released a report about opportunities in type 1 diabetes research. The report stated that lack of financing is holding science back from significant discovery. The waiting opportunities in research are great.
Aside from legislation, the Diabetes Caucus will be engaged throughout the beginning of 2007 in making a special quilt square for the Children With Diabetes Quilt. Rep. Curt Weldon, a diabetic and the father of a diabetic, is spearheading the effort. The square will be presented to Children With Diabetes at their annual meeting in August 2007 on behalf of the Diabetes Caucus.
What we need most, however, are more advocates. The cause of diabetes and the quest for more and better programs and funding are impossible without you. Your voice is powerful. Consider new ways in which you can stand up, speak out, and take the lead as an advocate for diabetes in 2007.