Observing World Diabetes Day: An Interview with the International Diabetes Federation

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is made up of over 230 national diabetes associations, including the American Diabetes Association, in 170 countries and territories.

The IDF’s Unite for Diabetes campaign resulted in the establishment of World Diabetes Day as an official United Nations day and introduced the blue circle as the global symbol of diabetes.

We interviewed Marie-Hélène Charles, communications coordinator at the IDF, about its ongoing effort to help people with diabetes all over the world.

What are some of the 230 national diabetes associations that make up the International Diabetes Federation?

Our 230+ member associations are divided among the seven regions of IDF in over 170 countries and territories. Some of the major ones include the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA), Diabetes UK (United Kingdom), Diabetes Australia, Japan Diabetes Society and the Brazilian Diabetes Society.

What are the goals of the International Diabetes Federation and how are the associations working to achieve them?

There are currently almost 400 million people with diabetes worldwide and many more at risk. IDF leads the global diabetes community and is engaged in action to tackle diabetes from the local to the global level – from programmes at community level to worldwide awareness and advocacy initiatives. We work with our member associations to improve health outcomes for people with diabetes and place diabetes at the top of the global health agenda.

What is the Unite for Diabetes campaign?

The Unite for Diabetes campaign was ran in 2006 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and resulted in the passage of UN Resolution 61/225, establishing World Diabetes Day (WDD) as an official United Nations day. The campaign introduced the blue circle as the global symbol of diabetes. Although the campaign is no longer active, the slogan is still used to inform awareness activities around the world.

What does the International Diabetes Federation have planned for World Diabetes Day?

This year the focus of our campaign is to promote the importance of starting the day with a healthy breakfast to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes and effectively manage all types of diabetes to avoid complications. One of our key messages is that a small investment, both at the individual and community level, can make a big difference in reducing the health burden that diabetes is predicted to cause in the next 20 years. IDF will be holding a high-profile breakfast event in Brussels on the day to bring this message to key opinion leaders. Our member associations have many activities planned which can be viewed on the WDD website.

What are some ways that individuals can participate in World Diabetes Day?

There are many ways that individuals can get involved in the campaign. These include actions like wearing blue (the colour of the global diabetes symbol), promoting the campaign messages and materials through personal social media profiles, getting a local personality to wear the blue circle pin and show their support for diabetes awareness, organising the blue lighting of a local landmark or prominent building, or getting together with friends, family or colleagues to form a human blue circle in a public place. All suggested activities can be found here.

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