The United Nations General Assembly has today passed a landmark Resolution recognising the global threat of the diabetes epidemic. For the first time, governments have acknowledged that a non-infectious disease poses as serious a threat to world health as infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
The campaign was a triumph for Australias own Professor Martin Silink, Professor of Paediatric Endocrinology, University of Sydney and The Childrens Hospital at Westmead who is the newly elected President of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). He led and directed the "Unite for Diabetes campaign", which drew attention to the seriousness of diabetes and encouraged action to fight the epidemic.
Silink, absolutely thrilled by the successful outcome of the global campaign, said "Today a key battle has been won in the fight against diabetes. The significance is monumental. It will inspire, energise and empower the diabetes world. The struggle will now focus on helping and encouraging governments worldwide to develop national policies to improve diabetes care and prevention. I couldnt think of a better gift for the millions of families affected by diabetes."
The Unite for Diabetes campaign has brought together the largest ever diabetes coalition, including patient organisations from over 150 countries, the majority of the worlds scientific and professional diabetes societies, many charitable foundations, service organisations and industry.
Professor Paul Zimmet, Director of the International Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, who coordinated the Asian-Pacific nations on the vote, said "This is a huge win in the fight against the biggest epidemic in human history. Diabetes is a much-ignored but deadly disease, responsible for close to 4 million deaths every year. With 246 million people with diabetes now and with 380 million people with diabetes by 2025, the disease is set to bankrupt many national economies."
The Peoples Republic of Bangladesh steered the diplomatic process that resulted in the passing of the Resolution. The campaign was taken up by the G77 (a coalition of 133 developing and transitional countries at the UN led by the Republic of South Africa). The ownership of the Resolution by this majority voting bloc convinced the countries of the developed world including Australia to throw their support behind the Resolution.
The Resolution designates World Diabetes Day, November 14th, as a United Nations Day to be observed every year starting in 2007. It calls on all UN Member States to observe the day and on all nations to develop national policies for the prevention, treatment and care of diabetes.