Spotlight on the International Diabetes Federation

Prior to his appearance at a major London conference, John Grumitt, vice president, International Diabetes Federation (IDF), speaks to pharmaphorum about how the organisation is working to improve the lives of people with diabetes, working with patients and global groups to disseminate key messages and effect changes.

Could you introduce us to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and its purpose?

IDF is the authentic voice and champion of people with diabetes around the globe. The organisation represents over 380 million people living with diabetes today and the millions more at risk of developing the disease wherever they are. For someone like me, who comes from a country with relatively good diabetes services, it’s easy to forget that there are countries where these services are far from satisfactory. There is a need for an organisation like IDF to be a champion for everyone with diabetes and to use its collective strength to work for a better future for them.

How does IDF ensure that it represents the views of people with diabetes in its work?

Through its 230 national member associations, IDF has a direct line to millions of people living with diabetes and their healthcare teams. The decisions we make and the activities we support are designed to improve the lives of these people. Some of our upcoming projects include one which will analyse patient feedback on diabetes services in their countries and another which will tell the stories of people discriminated against because of their diabetes. We hope these projects will influence policy makers and inform the healthcare community and public on the challenges facing people with diabetes and the fact that there is still much to be done to tackle the disease.

What is IDF doing to influence policy?

Diabetes is an epidemic and requires a response on a global scale. Policy makers have a large role to play in this. Through high-level advocates such as the Parliamentarians for Diabetes Global Network, IDF is leading the charge to put diabetes on top of healthcare agendas around the world. Working alongside the World Health Organization, we aim to impact the agenda of national governments and to encourage the adoption of diabetes prevention and management policies and targets.

Do we need a paradigm shift in terms of preventing and managing diabetes?

Prevention and management both require our attention. Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented and we still know very little about its causes. Therefore our focus is on management through providing diabetes education to the person with diabetes and their healthcare team and access to essential medicines such as insulin. Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for up to 90 per cent of the diabetes burden, is associated with lifestyle changes and can be prevented in many cases. Here we can make cost-effective and simple interventions such as encouraging more physical activity and better nutrition within populations to prevent its development.

Do patients need to take greater responsibility for their diabetes?

If people with diabetes are empowered and in equal partnership with healthcare providers and governments, they can play an active role in the management of their condition. IDF supports the fundamental right of people with diabetes to live full lives with fair opportunities. We also recognise that people with diabetes have responsibilities, which include the establishment of a healthy lifestyle and the open-sharing of information with healthcare providers and other members of their care-giving network.

Can you explain your relationship with the pharmaceutical sector?

It is a fact that without insulin, people with diabetes will die. This is why engagement with the producers of insulin, namely the pharmaceutical sector, will continue to be crucial in our efforts to tackle the diabetes epidemic.

IDF believes that engagement with the pharmaceutical sector is one pillar in our multi-sectoral approach to tackling the epidemic, which also includes cooperation with healthcare professionals, governments and people with diabetes. Through this broad approach we can create successful and sustainable ways to improve the lives of millions of people.

About the author:

John Grumitt is vice president of the International Diabetes Federation 2013-2015. He qualified as a chartered accountant with Price Waterhouse, London, and subsequently attended the Wharton Business School, Philadelphia. He has held senior international positions in financial, commercial and general management including CEO and finance director and built a major international business. He has led and advised a number of consumer-centric organisations, working as executive and non-executive director, as well as being an advisor to management and financiers. More recently he has been directly involved in shaping healthcare reform in England with particular focus on care for people with diabetes. John has type 1 diabetes.

John will be speaking about using collaboration to accelerate opportunities at CreateHealth London on 24 October.

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