"Across the world, the threat [of diabetes] is ignored and under-funded": Kofi Annan

"Across the world, the threat [of diabetes] is ignored and under-funded": Kofi Annan
Diabetes Leadership Forum 2009 seeks solutions to reduce long-term public healthcare costs

"A recent survey showed that the age-standardized rate of diabetes among adults living in urban areas is up to 9.7% in China," said Prof. Yang Wenying, chairman of Chinese Diabetes Society. That means approximately 92.4 million people in China have diabetes, Prof. Yang revealed on 31st October 2009 in Beijing at The Diabetes Leadership Forum 2009 China, an international conference co-hosted by the Chinese Ministry of Health and the World Diabetes Foundation. The Chinese government is taking the threat seriously, implementing concrete actions to fight the epidemic.


"Chronic diseases such as diabetes are becoming public health challenges," said Chinese Minister of Health Chen Zhu to an audience of more than 600 delegates, including government officials, medical professionals, and experts from around the world. "Improving prevention and treatment is critical for realising the goals of the country's new reform plan, Healthy China 2020." Minister Chen revealed that in the coming months he will be announcing a national plan on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases from 2010-2020.


The forum's core message was a national and global call for action to reverse the diabetes epidemic, thereby improving people's lives, reducing long-term healthcare costs, and securing productivity and growth. Speakers encouraged cooperation across sectors and borders to advance diabetes treatment and prevention, increase public education of the disease, and improve early diagnosis and care in pregnant women, infants and children.


Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan underlined the need for global action: "Across the world, the threat [of diabetes] is ignored and under-funded. Tackling diabetes must be a priority. It is so serious that we all have to be involved if we are to reverse this epidemic.".

The annual direct costs of diabetes in China in 2004 were estimated at RMB 57,469 billion, about 7.5 % of total healthcare spending. Direct spending for a person with diabetes was 2.5 times more than for a person without it. Furthermore, two-thirds of Chinese people who have diabetes do not realise they have it until they start to develop its late-stage and costly complications such as damage to eyes, kidneys and heart. Diagnosing diabetes earlier and giving proper care will reduce healthcare costs by preventing or delaying the development of such complications.

"We need to learn how to handle the increasing number of people with chronic diseases and build healthcare systems that can effectively deal with the new situation," said Anil Kapur, managing director of the World Diabetes Foundation, stressing the need to find a model that balances community-based prevention and care with hospital-based acute care.


Lars Rebien Sørensen, president and CEO of Novo Nordisk, said: "Novo Nordisk is proud to support the dialogue in China around solutions to tackle the diabetes epidemic. The key to change the course of diabetes lies in prevention, early detection, access to care, and improved treatment. That way, we not only reduce the number of people who develop diabetes in the first place, but we also increase our capacity to tackle complications more effectively, and ultimately reduce the cost to society."


The Chinese Diabetes Society and the Chinese Centre for Disease Control have organised the Diabetes Leadership Forum 2009 China with the support of the International Diabetes Federation. Novo Nordisk, a healthcare company and a world leader in diabetes care, has sponsored the event.


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