European Parliament Lunch Debate “Towards a new Diabetes Resolution: The Time to Act is Now!”

13 October 2022

To mobilise political support for a new diabetes resolution, IDF Europe and MEPs Mobilising for Diabetes (MMD) held a lunch debate at the European Parliament in Brussels, on October 12. The event was hosted by MEP István Ujhelyi, a long-standing supporter and strong ally of the diabetes community.

The goal of the event was to highlight that 100 years after the discovery of insulin and 10 years after the first European Parliament Motion for a Resolution on Diabetes the number of people living with diabetes (PwD) continues to rise, many inequalities in access to care and treatment still persist across the European Union (EU) and bolder political action is urgently required.

After an introduction by MEP Istvan Ujhelyi on the importance of reaffirming political commitment to tackle the diabetes epidemic in the EU, Chris Delicata, President of the Maltese Diabetes Association and former IDF Europe Chair, explained why acting on diabetes is far from being a one-disease approach, but instead is one that benefits all healthcare users through better designed, sustainable and resilient healthcare systems “Diabetes is a lifelong chronic and hugely complex disease that unfortunately claims lives and at times causes disabilities. No other non-communicable disease (NCD) requires as much coordination across a variety of healthcare professionals (HCPs) and care levels. Preventing type 2 diabetes by addressing the many risk factors also common to other NCDs and optimising diabetes management leads to a reduction in the number of people living with diabetes and other NCDs and dying from them. The situation in Europe is of concern with the condition spiraling out of control. It is therefore time to act!” (read the speech here).

During the event, three diabetes advocates, Veerle Vanhuyse from Belgium, Cameron Keighron from Ireland and Konstantinos Tagkalos from Greece, shared their stories of living with diabetes and reflected on the urgent need for a new diabetes resolution to improve diabetes care and build resilient and sustainable health systems.

During her testimonial, Veerle highlighted the physical and psychological burden of living with a condition that demands 24/7 self-management and the fact that many PwD in Europe are still struggling to access the medicines and technologies that are required to effectively manage their condition and to prevent complications.

“Diabetes is an uncurable disease of which too little is known, that requires us to make constant decisions on our own without ever taking a break. The mental burden, the stigma and discrimination are our daily struggles that only our peers can truly understand”.

Cameron emphasised the importance of valuing the expertise and the lived experience of PwD in order to understand what works best for them and to provide person-centred care.

“A one size fits all models does not work for PwD. There are many aspects of living with diabetes that are not taken into account when we meet our HCP. We need to be asked the right question for HCPs to understand what we need”.

Konstantinos described the many challenges that PwD often face in accessing early diagnosis and timely screening for diabetes-related complications and highlighted the huge burden that treating rather than preventing complications places on the health system and on PwD.

“The time allocated to PwD by their HCP in my country is 15 minutes. This is not enough to discuss treatment and prevention care that is person and value centred. This shows that health systems are often not organised with the needs of people in mind”.

The first part of the event was followed by a panel discussion on the need for urgent action at the European and national level to lower the incidence of diabetes, reduce inequalities and improve care for all NCDs. MMD members, MEP Romana Jerković (S&D, Croatia) and MEP Tomislav Sokol (EPP, Croatia), joined the previous speakers for the discussion. MEP Romana Jerković highlighted how a new diabetes resolution is a necessary stepstone towards improving the lives of 32 million Europeans across the EU, “The Healthier Together initiative is a first step in the right direction, but we need to recognise the urgency of diabetes and to match the solutions to the scale of the diabetes epidemic”. MEP Tomislav Sokol highlighted that the time to act is now, “It’s a crucial stage to put pressure on the Commission to deliver an ambitious Diabetes Plan, with clear benchmarks, targets, milestones and an implementation roadmap, that can make a difference in the prevention and management of diabetes to improve lives and reduce inequalities for people living with diabetes and other chronic conditions”.

During the day, blood glucose tests were conducted outside the event venue. More than 70 people, including event host, MEP István Ujhelyi, participating MEPs and other MEPs and APAs, came by to get their blood glucose tested, to assess their risk of developing type 2 diabetes and to learn more about diabetes, its risk factors, symptoms and potential complications.

We wish to thank MEP István Ujhelyi for hosting the event, MEP Romana Jerković and MEP Tomislav Sokol for their valuable contribution and everyone who joined the event to mobilise political support towards a resolution. The diabetes community is united in its support of the motion for a new diabetes resolution.

For more information about the motion for a resolution:

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We thank our partners, Air Liquide, Boehringer Ingelheim and Lilly Diabetes for their support to IDF Europe World Diabetes Day events and to our call for a new European Parliament Diabetes Resolution.

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