International Diabetes Federation elects new leadership to address global diabetes epidemic

International Diabetes Federation elects new leadership to address global diabetes epidemic

The International Diabetes Federation is proud to welcome Professor Jean Claude Mbanya of Cameroon as its new President at the close of the IDF 20th World Diabetes Congress on October 22. He will lead the Federation for the next 3 years. IDF is delighted to announce that Sir Michael Hirst of the United Kingdom was voted President-Elect today the IDF General Council that is made up of more than 200 IDF Member Associations from over 160 countries. Sir Michael will take over from President Mbanya in 2012.

Jean Claude Mbanya is Professor of Endocrinology at the University of Yaounde, Cameroon and Chief of the Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases Unit at the Hospital Central in Yaounde. He was instrumental in the IDF-led ‘Unite for Diabetes’ campaign, which led to passage of the United Nations Day Resolution on Diabetes in December 2006. He now steers IDF strategic direction to encourage governments to implement policies for the treatment, care and prevention of diabetes.

Professor Mbanya’s research focuses on cultural diabetes-related factors, which are often unique to the African countries and communities he studies. His practice and research have largely contributed to increase the world’s awareness on diabetes in Africa, a continent where non-contagious diseases such as diabetes are too often overlooked.

He takes charge at a time when diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are exacting a severe global toll, with most of the burden falling in the developing world. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases cause 60% of all deaths worldwide, with four in every five of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Diabetes contributes significantly to the NCD burden. Over 250 million people live with diabetes worldwide.

“The challenge ahead is to put diabetes care within the reach of all people living with diabetes. It is my hope that my time as President of the Federation will see an increase in spending on global health, with a major shift in funding for diabetes and non-communicable diseases. We have to act together to ensure that accidents of geography and history do not determine who should live or die,” said Professor Mbanya.

Sir Michael Hirst has served as a Vice-President of IDF since 2006 and as co-Chair of the IDF TIDES programme, which addresses diabetes care in emergency situations. He became interested in diabetes over twenty years ago when his youngest child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at a very young age.

Then a Member of the British Parliament, Sir Michael championed the cause of diabetes in Parliament, as a result of which he was co-opted to the Board of Trustees of the British Diabetic Association, now Diabetes UK. There he served as a trustee in a variety of capacities for 17 years, most recently as the first non-medical Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 2001-2006. As Chairman, he oversaw major changes in the operations and governance of Diabetes UK, Europe's largest organization for people with diabetes.

Sir Michael Hirst is a graduate in law of the University of Glasgow and was an exchange student at the University of Iceland. He later qualified as a chartered accountant and became a partner in KPMG, the international accounting firm, until he entered the British Parliament. Sir Michael held a number of senior positions in frontline politics until 1997 and was knighted for political and public service in 1992. He has also served on the board of a number of leading charities and public bodies, and is currently Chairman of two companies in the UK.

“I am deeply touched by the honour bestowed upon me by IDF’s member associations. I look forward to the opportunity to continue the work of the Federation. I will serve my apprenticeship under an inspiring leader and expect to learn a great deal over the next three years. There is a huge job to be done for people with diabetes and it will require a united global effort to improve their lives. It will be a challenge, but one that I shall relish. My retirement has been postponed,” said Hirst.

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