YLL participants reconvene for a session on diabetes advocacy and activism

03 September 2021

After a summer break, youth advocates from across Europe reconvened virtually in late August to learn about various aspects of advocacy work, from institutional advocacy to grassroots advocacy. IDF Europe also presented its key advocacy messages and target stakeholders as well as its main thought leadership pieces and other advocacy materials.

Earlier in the programme, YLL participants completed a module on project management, learning how to balance priorities, manage their time and create campaigns. A lesson on creativity was provided by Medtronic, which presented its Blue Balloon Challenge.

During the advocacy session, the young leaders listened to presentations from João-Filipe Raposo, Medical Director of the Portuguese Diabetes Association (APDP), Ana Špoljarić, a diabetes grassroots activist from Croatia, and Alina Chebes, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at IDF Europe.

Prof Raposo walked the participants through the history of APDP, the oldest diabetes association in Europe, and described how it has evolved from a charitable organisation providing free insulin to poor people into a modern outpatient clinic that treats 400 patients per day and is now a national and international specialised diabetes healthcare reference centre. APDP also offers training for healthcare professionals (HCPs), takes part in research projects and organises summer camps for youth with Type 1 diabetes, where climbing mountains each summer has become a tradition. Prof Raposo also shared some successful examples of APDP advocacy efforts, involving media to increase their visibility. His takeaway message to the youth was “Do not take “no” for an answer!”

Ms Špoljarić from Croatia taught the YLL participants some lessons on the power of communities. Her association’s ‘For Life Without Pain’ initiative, involved diabetes activists, healthcare professionals and politicians to demand access to intermittently scanned glucose monitors and continuous glucose monitors for people with Type 1 diabetes in Croatia. Altogether, 7,000 people supported their petition. Together with the Zagreb Diabetes Association, the grassroot campaigners managed to raise awareness of diabetes and create pressure on companies and the Croatian Health Insurance Fund to provide those blood glucose monitors for all people with Type 1 diabetes.

Alina Chebes, IDF Europe’s Policy & Advocacy Coordinator was the final presenter of the session. Alina shared the key messages IDF Europe uses when targeting policymakers, the policy context in which the organisation operates, and the key challenges posed by the current diabetes landscape. At the global level, IDF Europe works within the framework of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030. Of specific interest are target 3.4 on reducing premature mortality from non-communicable diseases and target 3.8 on ensuring universal health coverage. At the EU level, IDF Europe engages closely with the Commission, Parliament, and the Council around health-related policies such as EU4Health, the European Health Data Space and the revision of pharmaceutical legislation. WHO Europe is an important partner for advocacy work across the European region and to engage at the national level. Alina finished her presentation by thanking the young leaders for being active participants in IDF Europe’s activities and representing PwD in key meetings with diabetes stakeholders.

To learn more about the YLL and other Youth initiatives, please, go here.