IDF Advocates Rights Of People Living With Diabetes

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) has launched the first ever International Charter of Rights and Responsibilities of People with Diabetes setting out the fundamental rights of more than 300 million people living with diabetes. Publication of this Charter comes at a crucial time, when diabetes seems to be affecting most of us in some way or the other--people with or at risk of diabetes, healthcare providers, employers concerned about employee wellness and health costs, governments trying to  balance increasing demands with a limited budget or just an individual concerned about the health of future generations.

As the global diabetes epidemic continues to escalate, IDF estimates that the number of people with diabetes will rise to 500 million within a generation, killing 4 million people each year and costing the global economy US$378 billion in health care spending.

According to Ann Keeling, CEO IDF,  "2011 is a global game changer for diabetes. This year is the year we change the lives of real people on the ground and turn the diabetes epidemic around.  I invite you all to be a part of this change and make a world of difference for diabetes."

The vision of the Charter is to improve the health and quality of life of people living with diabetes, enabling them to realize their full potential and lead as normal a life as is possible.

This charter acknowledges that people with diabetes can play an important role in confronting this silent killer if they have the rights and opportunities to act as equal partners with health care providers and governments. It emphasizes that they share the same human rights as people who do not have diabetes.

 Briefly speaking, the charter emphasizes that people with diabetes have the right to:

(i) Care and treatment of diabetes by way of early diagnosis and affordable /equitable access to high quality services during childhood, adolescence, pregnancy and child birth, and in later life. This would include access to psychosocial care and support regardless of race, ethnicity, gender and age.

 (ii) Information and education about diabetes, including how it can be prevented, how early detection in high risk individuals is an advantage, how the disease can be managed effectively and how to access education and clinical resources as well as monitoring their own care and health goals.

 (iii) Social Justice, by way of being treated with respect and dignity by all, so that there is no need to conceal their disease from others. There should be no ground for discrimination against them in any activity in and outside their homes, schools, workplaces, and they should be given time and a safe environment to attend to their medical needs.

Apart from enjoying these rights, the Charter envisages that people living with diabetes have the crucial responsibility to share information about  their current status of health, medication, and lifestyle behaviour with their healthcare providers, and also to manage their care and treatment plans. It is their duty to adopt, implement and monitor healthy lifestyle behaviours as part of their self-management of diabetes.

This Charter is expected to act as a powerful campaigning tool to counteract the discrimination and stigma which millions of people with diabetes still face, largely due to ignorance and misconceptions surrounding the disease.

Raising awareness about the rights of people with diabetes is a key element of IDF's campaigning for coordinated and concerted international action to tackle the diabetes epidemic ahead of the UN High Level Summit on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) to be held this September in New York.

 If the current burden of diabetes and its related complications is to be reversed, then people with diabetes, their families and communities will have to be given opportunities to play a central role in diabetes care, prevention and research.

In the words of Sir Michael Hirst, President-Elect, IDF: "Both children and adults alike are denied both the rights to life and health when their diabetes goes undetected or they lack access to affordable technologies and medicines such as insulin, oral blood glucose lowering agents and other necessary medications. This is a ground-breaking document that gives Governments and organisations clear guidance on what the fundamental rights to life, health and freedom from discrimination mean to people with diabetes. It is a gold standard to which they should aspire."

 Shobha Shukla - CNS
(The author is the Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS) and also serves as the Director of CNS Diabetes Media Initiative (CNS-DMI).She is a J2J Fellow of National Press Foundation (NPF) USA. She has worked earlier with State Planning Institute, UP. Email:, website: 

Published in:
Citizen News Service (CNS), India/Thailand 
States Times News, Jammu & Kashmir