A brief history of the International Diabetes Federation

It is with great honour that I present this brief history of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), a journey which began over 67 years ago, led by a few inspirational individuals who dared to transform their dream into reality.

Why do we need this compilation? It has been rightly said that if we do not learn from the past, we will make the same mistakes in the future. And there is a lot to learn from what the IDF has gone through over the years. Since its humble beginnings in 1950, with just 16 countries as initial members, we have grown into a global organisation representing over 165 countries and territories, and people with diabetes all over the world. We have achieved a lot, carried forward by the tireless enthusiasm and commitment of a vast army of volunteers and professionals, dedicated to a common cause - improving the lives of people with diabetes.

Despite our achievements, diabetes remains a significant global problem. In 2011, one person died of diabetes related problems every seven seconds. In 2015, in spite of increased knowledge,newer Guidelines and Clinical Recommendations and newer therapies, a person died of diabetes related complications every six seconds. Why? All of us will agree that we have to find solutions to stem this diabetes “tsunami”. We have to think out of the box for the future as well as understand our actions in the past, many of which have improved the lives of people affected bydiabetes, but also accept that some have not, and learn from this.

IDF has achieved much over the last 67 years but much remains to be done as evidenced by the continued rise in the number of people living with diabetes and the complications and mortality associated with it. We would all agree that we are in a war against diabetes. But “Bad things happen not because of bad people, but because good people are not willing to come together to fight it!” Today the International Diabetes Federation has many “good” people and we all have to come together to try and defeat diabetes.

I am confident that taking heart from the energy, dedication and inspiration shown by the countless individuals that fill the pages of this brief IDF history, we can shape a better future for the millions of people currently affected by diabetes and the many more at risk. This is in the end what we are all about! I hope you find our past interesting and inspirational. Let us learn from this but also let us get on. We have a lot more to do!

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But we have promises to keep,
And miles to go before we sleep!

Many people have helped in this compilation and although it would not be possible to name all of them, I must mention the help and inputs of Wendell Mayes Jr., Maria de Alva, George Alberti, Pierre Lefebvre, Martin Silink, Jean-Claude Mbanya, Paul Zimmet, Morsi Arab, Nam Cho and many, many more. I would specially like to mention Lorenzo Piemonte and Claire Poelmans and others from the IDF Office.

This is a brief compilation based on the material we could access from our archives and inputs and remembrances of many people who have been deeply involved in the work of IDF. If any relevant material has been left out, I apologise for the same and hope you would let us know so that it can be incorporated if possible.

Shaukat Sadikot
President 2016-17
International Diabetes Federation

  • A brief history of the International Diabetes Federation

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