'Lifetime Achievement' and 'IDRF Gold Medal Oration' Awards

In an effort to increase awareness regarding diabetes among the common public and as an advocacy incentive, the India Diabetes Research Foundation (IDRF), established by Prof A Ramachandran in 2007 in Chennai, has instituted two awards, to honour eminent people who have made significant contributions in the field of diabetes. Read more

This year Dr. Ala Alwan, Assistant Director, Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health, World
Health Organization, Geneva, received the ‘IDRF Gold Medal Oration’ Award and Dr. Anil Kapur, President, World Diabetes Foundation, Denmark, was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award, in a ceremony organized recently in Chennai.

Both of the recipients are well known figures in the field of diabetes.

Dr Alwan has held several positions in clinical and academic medicine and public health. He has been occupying his present position since February 2008 and was earlier Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Mustansiriya University, Baghdad. . Prof Alwan's research interests are screening for non-communicable diseases, reforms in health sector for human resource development and prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. He has published many research papers in prestigious international medical journals and has played a major role in the formulation of international guidelines and international care initiatives of the WHO.

Dr. Anil Kapur is the President of World Diabetes Foundation, Denmark. He has been associated with the World Diabetes Foundation since its inception, previously serving on its board as the vice chairman. He initiated the development of several programmes, especially public awareness campaigns, in diabetes as part of this Foundation. He has also authored nearly a hundred research publications in the areas of Internal Medicine, Clinical Pharmacology, endocrinology and diabetes. He has coordinated several large studies and developed a nutritional software package called NINA.

While receiving the award, Dr. Alwan rued that Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), including diabetes, had become the single biggest cause of mortality by accounting for 60 per cent of the 35 million deaths occurring globally every year.  He pinpointed that the three major drivers of the rapidly changing profile of this disease, which is impacting health and socioeconomic development in developing countries, were aging population, unplanned urbanization, and globalization of unhealthy environments/ behaviour.

Health systems in developing countries, with an estimated 10 million deaths due to NCDs annually, have been reeling under the cost impact of managing the NCD burden. The WHO global strategy for NCDs laid down a framework for tobacco control, diet modifications, physical activity and health promotion, Dr. Alwan said.

In his speech, Dr. Kapur noted that in several remote regions across the world, diabetes was seriously impacting on the lives of the poor who lacked awareness and resources to cope with the condition. According to him, NCDs such as diabetes should be seen not as a clinical problem but as a public health issue requiring multi-sectoral intervention.

Dr Ramachandran, IDRF president, felt that the low and middle income families were worst hit by diabetes. He said that surveys showed that the cost of caring for a diabetic member of the family in poor households had risen from 20 per cent a few years ago to almost 35 per cent of family income.

We must remember that diabetes is a major epidemic all over the world. The pandemic of diabetes in developing countries like India and in underdeveloped countries is associated with high mortality and increased health care cost, creating several implications on the overall status of the society. It is estimated that globally 3.8 million people die due to diabetes.

All of us can help in the fight against diabetes in different ways – by creating awareness about the disease; promoting factors leading to its prevention and complications; educating and training healthcare professionals and people living with diabetes; finding better  tools for the detection, treatment and control of diabetes.

Shobha Shukla - CNS
(The author is the Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS) and also serves as the Director of CNS Gender Initiative and CNS Diabetes Media Initiative (CNS-DMI). She has worked earlier with State Planning Institute, UP, and teaches Physics at India's prestigious Loreto Convent. 
Email: shobha@citizen-news.org, website: www.citizen-news.org)