Adrian Sanders MP writes…New global parliamentary Diabetes network will ensure vital action is taken across the world

World Diabetes DayOn 2nd December 2013 at the first Parliamentary Diabetes Global Network (PDGN) meeting in Melbourne, Australia, attended by invited parliamentarians representing 50 countries, a declaration on Diabetes was agreed and signed.

Meeting in the Victoria State Parliament building MPs from across the globe reported on the state of Diabetes care in their countries, discussed how to raise the profile of the condition and agreed a declaration calling for urgent action to address the diabetes pandemic, committing the signatories to work across parliaments to help prevent the incidence of diabetes, ensure early diagnosis and improve the treatment of people with the condition.

The meeting elected two Vice-Presidents, Dr Rachael Nyamai MP (Kenya) and Simon Busuttil MP (Malta) and myself as the first President.

I was invited to attend as the Chairman of the United Kingdom all party parliamentary group for diabetes and of (ExPAND) the European policy action network for diabetes. I have also lived with Type 1 diabetes for a quarter of a century.

This new grouping will fill a missing gap, but I am determined it will do much more.  There is a great deal of cross-national communication among medical professionals, pharmaceutical companies, health ministers and patient groups but nothing for parliamentarians who can set the agenda, influence budgets and vote for policies.

This, the first global network of parliamentarians for a specific medical condition, will create a platform to raise the profile of Diabetes within governments across the world.

Through the communication of ideas and best practice and the encouragement of action within parliaments around the world we can move towards that tipping point where the allocation of resources and effort to prevent, diagnose and treat diabetes is no longer questioned.

The urgency required cannot be over-stated given the rising tide of diabetes across all continents and countries rich and poor. Already the scale of the challenge threatens the health care budgets of most countries and the economies of many.

There are over 382 million people with diabetes most of whom are aged between 40 and 59, and 80% of them live in low- and middle-income countries. All types of diabetes are on the increase, type 2 diabetes in particular: the number of people with diabetes will increase by 55% by 2035.

An additional 21 million cases of high blood glucose in pregnancy are estimated to contribute to the global burden of diabetes. That is equivalent to 17% of live births to women in 2013 that had some form of high blood glucose in pregnancy.

In human as well as financial terms, the burden of diabetes is enormous, provoking 5.1 million deaths and taking up some USD 548 billion dollars in health spending (11% of the total spent world- wide) in 2013

The priority of the group in its early years will be to build a coalition of advocates for action to tackle the pandemic at local, regional, national and trans-national level with the focus on raising the matter in parliaments and assemblies across the globe to spread better understanding and awareness of diabetes and the urgency with which it needs to be addressed.


* Adrian Sanders is a councillor on Torbay Council, and was the MP for Torbay from 1997 to 2015.

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