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Long-term initiative from Western Pacific Congress

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
23 APRIL 2008

Long-term initiative from Western Pacific Region Congress

One of the successes from the recent International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Western Pacific Region Congress held in Wellington has been the launch of Parliamentarians for Diabetes in the Western Pacific Region

This was a Diabetes New Zealand initiative and was set-up to run in conjunction with the Congress. Parliamentarians in the IDF Western Pacific Region countries, which include the Asian Pacific rim, were invited to participate in this special forum with the objective of finding practical ways of implementing the UN resolution on diabetes on a country by country basis.

On 20 December 2006, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 61/225. This landmark Resolution recognises diabetes as a chronic, debilitating and costly disease associated with major complications that pose severe risks for families, countries and the entire world.

Governments have acknowledged that diabetes is increasing at epidemic rates and is affecting all countries. For the first time, a non-infectious disease has been seen as posing as serious a global health threat as infectious epidemics such as HIV/AIDS.

‘One of the points of the resolution is the encouragement from the UN to Member States to develop national policies for the prevention, treatment and care of diabetes in line with the sustainable development of their health-care systems,’ explains Diabetes New Zealand President Mike Smith.

‘We know that there are countries in this region that struggle with sustainability and capability issues in their health-care systems and we need to work as a region to combat diabetes.’

The group was launched on Tuesday 1 April by IDF President Professor Martin Silink at a Parliamentary evening reception that included presentations by parliamentarians from New Zealand, Australia, Samoa and the Cook Islands. Earlier that day, international parliamentarians joined members of the South Pacific Commission, and Diabetes New Zealand and IDF representatives in a visit to the Pacific Health Services at Strathmore.

‘This has been a terrific way to launch this group,’ says Mike Smith. ‘We have connected with the people working at the frontline and we are also engaging in some very high-level discussion.

We need that government involvement if we are to meet the challenge set by the theme of the Congress – Diabetes Asia Pacific: Working for solutions. This is a very practical initiative and through this we want to achieve real gains for people with diabetes in this region.’

Two early outcomes from this engagement are:
1. The Diabetes New Zealand President has been invited to address parliamentarians in the Cook Islands in August this year.
2. Diabetes NZ Pacific Wellington, which is a Diabetes New Zealand affiliated society that originated at Pacific Health Services, has been invited to present their service in the Cook Islands in July.

ENDS

For more information on the UN resolution on diabetes, please go to www.worlddiabetesday.org

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