Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 185

João ManuelValente Nabais
President
International Diabetes Federation Europe
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still missing from European initiatives, and stakeholders involved in these
remain mostly confined to health.
In addition to this, support for diabetes research also needs to be part of
a multisectoral approach to act on diabetes. Initiatives such as Horizon
2020 help highlight the importance of research and innovation in
delivering better diagnosis, more effective treatments and new models
of care based on new technologies. One of the project’s focus areas
being food and healthy diet, Horizon 2020 can support diabetes
prevention efforts by promoting informed consumer choice and finding
strategies for making healthy foods available to all.
However, efforts to support diabetes research at the national level are
not strong enough. Only 12 EU countries include diabetes research in
their national plan covering diabetes. This shows that, although research
might be conducted, there is no co-ordinated strategy. In addition,
research too often fails to be translated into policies that could improve
the lives of people with diabetes and those at risk.
The rising number of people with diabetes in Europe reminds us that
inaction is clearly not an option. We have the political declarations, we have
the will and we have the commitment. What we now need is to see this
translated into concrete action on the ground. By this we mean being able
to provide support to a little boy who has just been diagnosed with Type 1
diabetes and to his family about how to manage his condition, to help an
elderly person who has eye problems because of diabetes, but who does
not have access to regular screening services, or to make a woman aware
about her risks of developing Type 2 diabetes and support her to adopt
lifestyle changes that will allow her to live a longer, healthier life.
Individuals like these are the ones who ultimately benefit from
comprehensive, properly implemented policies for diabetes care and
prevention. It is only through a collective response involving all relevant
stakeholders at European, national, regional and local levels that we will
be able to develop and implement these policies, and protect the future
of millions of citizens in Europe and beyond.
1
International Diabetes Federation.
IDF Diabetes Atlas, Update 2014.
Brussels, Belgium:
International Diabetes Federation, 2014.
2
European Coalition for Diabetes.
Diabetes in Europe: Policy Puzzle – The State We Are In.
Brussels, Belgium: European Coalition for Diabetes, 2014.
3
A survey conducted by the International Diabetes Federation Europe in 2013 on access to
diabetes treatment found that hundreds of thousands of people with diabetes throughout
the region do not have access to the medicines, medical devices and services they need
to be able to treat their condition, with huge inequalities amongst and within EU countries.
The report is available here:
allocating more resources to primary and
secondary prevention.
3
Amongst the Commission’s policy priorities is
a connected digital single market. This could
greatly contribute to diabetes care and
prevention by helping millions of people with
diabetes and people at risk to access a
growing number of e-health and mobile health
services and devices. However, a number of
key issues will need to be addressed in order
to develop policies that truly benefit patients.
These include reaching out to marginalised
groups, ensuring digital health literacy for all,
defining the role of the private sector and
guaranteeing data protection.
President Juncker also wants to strengthen the
European Single Market, including labour
mobility. Initiatives to improve the recognition
process of professional qualifications, including
those of healthcare professionals, is particularly
relevant for diabetes care as there is currently
a lack of trained healthcare professionals in
many EU countries.
Time to prevent
Vytenis Andriukaitis, the new EU Commissioner
for Health and Food Safety, stated that his
priority will be to focus on prevention to reduce
costs to health systems and keep citizens in
good health. Once again, this will be essential
if we want to curb diabetes. Together with
prevention, improving screening and early
diagnosis is vital if we are to make people
aware of their risk of diabetes and support them
in changing their lifestyles.
Andriukaitis will also need to follow up with
concrete actions to adopt a comprehensive,
whole-of-society approach in the fight against
diabetes and chronic conditions that the EU has
so far failed to deliver. Key sectors are indeed
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