IDF Europe celebrates the third edition of IDF Europe Prizes in Diabetes on 25 November in Tirana, Albania. This year, we acknowledge our Slovenian member association Zveza društev diabetikov Slovenije (SLODA) with the prize of Long-standing Achievement awarded by Eli Lilly and Company. Through this prize, we recognise the endless dedicated work of our members associations to support the lives of people with diabetes in their respective countries and to prevent the condition.
Founded 60 years ago, SLODA is one of our oldest member organizations. After the Award Ceremony, we talked to his representative, Vice-president Alojz Rudolf. Smiling and proud, he holds his prize and happily shared with us more about their SLODA’s long-standing achievements throughout all these years.
It has been more than 60 years since your organization was founded. In your opinion, what have been your organization’s major achievements along these years?
Our major achievement has been also our main project, which we are extremely proud of. It is called Competition in knowledge about diabetes for primary and secondary schools. In our opinion, these kind of projects are one of the best awareness programs for type 2 prevention not only in our country, but also at European level.
|Participants of 2018 Competition in knowledge about diabetes
This year, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the competition. Over this period, more than 160.000 competitors has participated in the program. Each of these participants has received awareness information on, not only healthy lifestyle for themselves and their families, but also on ways to prevent or postpone diabetes type 2 and its co-morbidities.
Moreover, we also consider the National Diabetes Prevention and Care Development Programme 2010 – 2020 as another of our biggest achievements in 2010.
You have just won IDF Europe long-standing achievement for diabetes 2018. What 2018 activities make you more proud? What are your organization’s highlights for this year?
As mentioned before, we are celebrating this year 2018 the 20th anniversary of the first competition in knowledge about diabetes in primary and secondary schools. So in this very long period we grew and expanded the programme and that’s why we are so proud of it.
For the first time, we have also performed World Diabetes Day activities together with the Slovenian Heart Foundation. Since diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases are significantly linked, we organised together WDD press conference and roundtable, among others. During this 2018 WDD, we had around 1.000 participants and 47 buildings were illuminated in blue.
|Castle of Ljubljana. Author: Nik Rovan
What does this prize means to you and your organization?
This prize confirms the effectiveness of our awareness raising activities on diabetes in our country; but also reassures that our recent program [competition in primary and secondary school] is on the right track. This award is important because it means that IDF Europe recognises our tireless work for diabetes throughout the years, acknowledging the organisations efforts and projects, and encourage us to continue our way forward.
What are the specific challenges for people living with diabetes in Slovenia face?
In general terms, Slovenian people living with diabetes do not suffer from specific challenges, since almost all medical devices (such as insulin pumps) are CGMS are available.
However, we are having problems regarding the strips provision. People living with type 2 diabetes, who are on diet or tablets, are not receiving these strips and we are thus now focusing our policy efforts on the right of patients to receive 50 strips per year.
What are your organization’s priorities and objectives for next year?
Our immediate and more practical priorities are related to internal organizational matters such as electing a new president and increasing the number of staff to well manage our increasing projects. Our mid-long term objectives are to work closer with the Slovenian Heart Foundation to share common efforts and improve awareness about diabetes. We will also start preparing with other stakeholders the National Diabetes Plan 2020-2030.
These objectives are challenging and demand sustained and constant effort in the following months.
In your opinion, in which direction should evolve the current political lines on diabetes, at EU and national level?
In our opinion, all political decisions should focus on early prevention of diabetes. Investing in early prevention, the costs of diabetes care will decrease in the long term. This is one of the reasons why in the past years, we focused our effort on the school Competition. It is a long-term prevention investment and practice.
With a big smile, Alojz continued to hold his prize and we asked him what recommendation he would give to other organizations working for diabetes around Europe. “Cooperation and collaboration between organisations is key,” he categorically stated. “We would, for instance, overcome linguistic, geographical barriers”. For Alojz, it is clear:
“We are all together fighting for the rights of patients living with diabetes in the European region. Collaborating is the only way we will make the Together we are stronger statement become true”.
IDF Europe is a federation of 69 national associations in 44 countries. They pursue national objectives but share the common goal of supporting people living with diabetes and preventing the condition. Members are the core of our organisation and our joint work give meaning to our daily efforts. And this is why we are happy to acknowledge another year, the hard work of our Slovenian member organisation. Congratulations to Alojz Rudolf and SLODA team for their commitment and dedication with diabetes.