Youth Leaders Launch ‘Challenge For Change’

Young people representing more than 20 nations at an international diabetes conference hosted by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) called for government officials, industry executives and opinion leaders to take actions to immediately produce real and immediate differences in the way the world thinks about and treats diabetes.

The IDF youth ambassadors issued three demands that they called a ‘Challenge for Change’. The demands included treating access to diabetes care as a basic human right, raising diabetes care on the policy agenda, and establishing a basic understanding of diabetes through education. The youth ambassadors also voiced support for the United Nations Resolution on diabetes that is expected to be voted upon in 2007.

“More than 230 million people have diabetes, which kills someone every 10 seconds. More people die from this disease than from HIV/AIDS yet it is barely on the radar of most health officials,” said Martin Salkow, the South African youth ambassador. “We are here to ask that radical changes be made.”

Lars Rebien Sørensen, president and CEO of Novo Nordisk, said that in confronting the global pandemic of diabetes it is no longer acceptable to conduct business as usual. He applauded the youth challenging the status quo. “As a global pharmaceutical company, we must embrace a new kind of social leadership, redefine our goals and rethink our mission. We need to go beyond the usual definition of corporate social responsibility to become advocates for change,” he said. “And we must support the activism of these young leaders whose work today will contribute to shaping a different agenda for people with diabetes.”

The youth ambassadors agreed to return to their nations to educate other young people, schools and public officials on diabetes. They will be pushing for grassroots and national changes in diabetes treatment, policies that impact diabetes care and healthcare systems. Activities in the next 100 days will include briefing influential members of the local community such as health officials, doctors’ associations, teachers, schools and media. They also will track their progress to report what they have accomplished on World Diabetes Day 2007.

Their volunteer efforts are part of the IDF-led ‘Unite for Diabetes’ campaign in support of the UN Resolution on diabetes. Youth ambassadors will work to rally government support for a UN Resolution on Diabetes and will reach out to local officials on the magnitude of the problem and its trajectory towards a pandemic.

The 25 youth ambassadors were selected by the IDF for their outstanding contributions to their communities, countries and regions in areas of diabetes advocacy. Representatives travelled to Cape Town from Australia, Denmark, Serbia, People’s Republic of China, the US, Brazil, Ukraine, Ghana, Indonesia, Canada, Rwanda, Poland, Kenya, South Africa, Bolivia, Pakistan, Spain, People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Paraguay and El Salvador.