Diabetes in children and adolescents

October 31, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
London, United Kingdom. 14 November 2007 – The International Insulin Foundation (IIF)
would like to draw attention to the plight of people, especially children, in the developing world
with diabetes.

November 14th 2007 marks the eighteenth annual World Diabetes Day and the first World
Diabetes Day to be officially recognised by the United Nations following the acceptance of
United Nations Resolution 61/225 in December 2006.
The theme of this year's World Diabetes Day campaign is diabetes in children and adolescents.
Diabetes in children and adolescents faces a double challenge. On the one hand many children
and adolescents face the problem of accessing appropriate care and insulin, necessary for their
survival, in many developing countries. This leads to a decreased life expectancy which the IIF
has estimated to be 7 months in rural Mozambique compared to close to normal life expectancy
in many developed countries. In parallel the increase in obesity and its health impacts, one of
which is Type 2 diabetes, is extremely worrying. The increase in the number of children
developing a disease that was once referred to as “adult onset diabetes” should be addressed
vigorously at national and international levels.
What can be done? The IIF firmly believes that strengthening health systems is the key to
addressing the increasing burden of Type 2 diabetes and the constant challenge of appropriate
care for those with Type 1 diabetes. Based on the Foundation’s experience 11 key requirements
need to be addressed in order to ensure a propitious environment is present to provide the care,
medicines and support that people with diabetes have. These 11 points are:
1. Organisation of the Health System
2. Data Collection
3. Prevention
4. Diagnostic tools and infrastructure
5. Drug procurement and supply
6. Accessibility and affordability of medicines and care
7. Healthcare workers
8. Adherence issues
9. Patient education and empowerment
10. Community involvement and diabetes associations
11. Positive policy environment
About the IIF:
The IIF is a UK Registered Charity (Registered Charity No. 10999032), established by leading
academics and physicians in the field of diabetes with the aim of prolonging the life and
promoting the health of people with diabetes in developing countries by improving the supply
of insulin and education in its use.
The IIF was established by leading academics and physicians as a concerted effort to improve
the prospects for people with Type 1 diabetes in the world's poorest countries, by improving the
supply of insulin and education in its use.
In order to achieve these objectives, a clear analysis of the constraints to insulin access and
diabetes care is needed. The IIF’s view is that simply increasing the supply of insulin, through
donations or other means, is not sufficient and that the root of the problem needs to be solved.
The Foundation has carried out fieldwork in Mali, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Zambia, where it
is currently collaborating with the national diabetes associations and governments to improve
the conditions faced by people with diabetes.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects people of all ages in all areas of the world.
Inadequate care can lead to serious health complications such as blindness, kidney failure,
neuropathy (degeneration of nerves and nervous system), amputation, heart attacks and death.
November 14th was chosen as World Diabetes Day as it is Frederick Banting’s birthday.
Together with Charles Best, Dr. Banting discovered insulin in October 1921.
Type 1 diabetes is caused by the destruction of insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Insulin
is vital for the survival of people with Type 1 diabetes and must be administered daily
throughout the life of the patient. It is estimated that there are 5.3 million people worldwide who
suffer from Type 1 diabetes, and thus require insulin every day. There is a growing global
epidemic of Type 2 diabetes, due to rapid increases in obesity and sedentary behaviour.
The first person to be treated with insulin was a Canadian child, Leonard Thompson, in 1922.
Over 80 years later, many people with diabetes in the developing world still have difficulties
accessing insulin. This leads to a life expectancy, which can be as low as 12 months for a child
in rural sub-Saharan Africa compared to over 50-60 years for a child in Europe.