On May 16, the Swedish Diabetes Association will celebrate its 80th anniversary (“Diaversary”). The association was founded in May 1943, when insulin was still a novelty, and its cost too high for many people living with diabetes (PwD). The aim of the association and its first President, Ms Therése Eriksson, was to advocate to ensure access to free insulin for all PwD.
In 1952, the Swedish Diabetes Association joined the International Diabetes Federation and six years later, in 1958, succeeded in its fight for free insulin. Thanks to the hard work of the association, since then, PwD in Sweden have had access to insulin free of charge. The achievements of the association in protecting the rights of PwD continued through the years in various areas such as access to drivers’ licences, employment in the public sector, childcare support and much more.
Supporting PwD throughout the life course
Today, the Swedish Diabetes Association continues to play an important role in advocating for the needs of PwD at school, in the workplace and within the healthcare system.
“We highlight what it means to actually live with diabetes, and what are the things that are not working in our society, in our schools and in healthcare, so that politicians and healthcare providers can make decisions that help PwD. Our role is not to complain but to draw attention to the problems and come up with solutions”, said Björn Ehlin, Chairman of the Swedish Diabetes Association, about the role of the association.
The association supports PwD throughout their entire lifecycle and its members currently range from one to 101 years of age. A key role in this is played by the 100 branches of the association throughout the country where PwD can meet and share their experiences as well as participate in various activities, including diabetes camps.
The political work of the association is also key to its activities, and its strength is given primarily by its 21,000 members who can raise their voice to advocate for their needs. Part of this work is conducted through surveys collecting PwD’s perspectives, which are then brought to the attention of national policy makers and authorities.
Some of the important issues that have been raised over the past year are the right to psychological support and to equal access to healthcare services for all PwD. Recently, the association has also been working on raising awareness about the struggles faced by parents in supporting their children living with diabetes at school as well as about the lack of access to some diabetes medicines.
Diabetes research and hopes for the future
Besides working on issues that relate to PwD’s everyday life, members of the Swedish Diabetes Association are also very engaged and interested in supporting research for new diabetes treatments, technologies and, ultimately, a cure. Some 65 years ago, the association set up a fund for financing diabetes research in Sweden. Over the last five years, about SEK 120 million (approximately € 12 million) have been allocated through the fund to diabetes research.
Celebrating the 80th anniversary of the association
The celebrations for the 80th anniversary of the Swedish Diabetes Association will officially start on May 16. As part of the campaign, a video showcasing the milestones achieved by the association through the years will be shared on social media and a competition to win a goodie-bag will be launched. A dedicated issue of the association’s magazine “Allt om diabetes” (“All about diabetes”) will also be published and several events will be promoted throughout the year to celebrate the occasion. One of these will be the Nordic Diabetes Forum, taking place in August, and World Diabetes Day, on November 14.