"Ignored and Under-funded" - Kofi Annan
Leadership Forum 2009 seeks solutions to reduce long-term public
"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.
The author is a World Health Organization (WHO)'s
WNTD Awardee 2008, coordinates
the Stop-TB eForum Resource Team of HDN, and writes extensively on health and
development. Email: email@example.com)