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Diabetes Goes Blue for our Children

Diabetes Goes Blue for our Children

The New Brighton Pier in Christchurch will be the first landmark lit blue to mark World Diabetes Day on 14 November, followed by hundreds of other monuments throughout the world in this year’s vigil, which is themed around the impact of diabetes on children.

Diabetes is one of the world’s most common chronic conditions and isfast becoming an international health catastrophe.  Formerly seen as a disease of adulthood, it is now affecting our children.

In the future diabetes will touch increasing thousands of people, not just the very substantial number who will have the disease, but those with other illnesses who are affected as the pressure of diabetes draws resources away from other health priorities.

“This is the scenario for New Zealandand it is even more serious in undeveloped countries,” says Mike Smith, president of Diabetes New Zealand.

Recognising the seriousness of this global threat, the United Nations (UN) in 2006 passed an historical Resolution recognising 14November each year as the United Nations World Diabetes Day, but more particularly calling on all nations to develop national policies for the prevention, treatment and care of people living with diabetes and those at risk of developing diabetes.

“New Zealand, like many undeveloped countries, lacks a comprehensive strategy for the disease.  It can only be hoped that this Resolution and the vigil on 14 November will prompt our decision-makers to get to grips with the challenge of diabetes,” says Smith.

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The theme of 2008’s World Diabetes Day campaign is ‘Diabetes in Children and Adolescents’. Diabetes rates for both Types 1 and 2 are increasing in this age group.  Insulin is not available in some low and middle-income countries and, as a consequence, many children are dying of diabetes.

The International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) has initiated campaign calls to the global community to ‘Unite for Diabetes’ and support the resolution.  

“We are in the same position as many third world countries in not having a strategy”, says Mike Smith.

“While there is some good work going on we lack the necessary overarching plan that a national strategy provides.

 “ We need a scorecard that assesses the four key components of a public health response to diabetes: leadership; infrastructure; evidence for action based on the availability of health information; and cost effective interventions.

“Like many other countries around the world New Zealandis marking this day to draw attention to this shortcoming in our health planning,” says Mike Smith.

The day will be marked around the world by lighting up towers and monuments blue, and by forming human blue circles. The Christchurch observance at New Brighton Pier is being organised by Diabetes New Zealand Christchurch and Diabetes Youth New Zealand Canterbury.  The International Diabetes Federationis aiming to get over 500 landmarks lit in blue in support of youth with diabetes.

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