Members of Parliament, health ministers and leading experts in diabetes care and research from the UK and the world gathered in Parliament for an International Diabetes Conference, being held by the APPG for Diabetes.
The Conference is held at a time when diabetes is presenting huge challenges to both in the UK and worldwide. In the UK alone, there are 4 million people living with diabetes (diagnosed and undiagnosed) and this number is rising – since 1996 the number of people living with diabetes has more than doubled.
Internationally, there were an estimated 5 million deaths directly caused by diabetes and the World Health Organisation suggests that it will be the 7th leading cause of death in 2030.
By bringing together a range of voices, the conference sought to highlight these problems but, more importantly, how best to address the challenges faced. Attendees heard about the action being taken in Portugal, Mexico and Tunisia to address diabetes. It was particularly timely to hear from Dr Pablo Kuri Morales, Vice Minister for Health, Mexico, about the impact of the introduction of a sugary drinks tax has had here.
Jane Ellison, Minister for Public Health, UK, also addressed the audience with a wide-ranging speech about the efforts being taken by the UK Government both to ensure high quality care for those living with diabetes and that fewer people develop Type 2 diabetes. Key topics touched upon included the provision of structured education, reducing variations in care, and the upcoming Childhood Obesity Strategy.
Along with keynote speeches, leading experts as well as members of the audience were able to share their knowledge and experience of what works well through workshops on variations in access to and quality of care and on prevention and lifestyle. There was widespread agreement in the room both about the importance of structured education courses and the need for improved uptake as well as ensuring a smooth transition from paediatric to adult care. On prevention and lifestyle, the conference heard about the commitment from NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK, to deliver at scale, an evidence based behavioural programme to support people to reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.