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September 2015 Newsletter

GLOBAL ACTIVITIES HIGHLIGHT THE CHALLENGE OF DIABETES as members of the Parliamentary Diabetes Global Network swing into action

The State Parliament of Tasmania, Australia engages in some diabetes myth busting activities

Photo : The Hon Jim Wilkinson, Pres. Legislative Council, Caroline Wells, CEO, Diabetes Tasmania, The Hon Elise Archer MP, Speaker of the House, Minke Hoekstra, Dietitian, Guy Barnett MP and Co-Chair of the Parliamentarians for Diabetes Global Network


Raising awareness of the impact of diabetes in the community is pivotal to addressing the enormous challenge increasing numbers of people developing diabetes and the high risk of complications from undiagnosed and untreated diabetes.

Diabetes Tasmania and the Tasmanian Parliamentary Diabetes Support Group co hosted a lunchtime session to ‘Bust the Diabetes Myths’.

Guest speaker and dietitian Minke Hoeskstra challenged MP’s to judge the nutritional value and to match sugar cubes to the sugar content in a well-known range of food and drink products.

The results were surprising and it was clear that a lot more work has to be done to educate people to make healthy choices.

Diabetes Champion and Speaker of the House of Assembly, the Hon Elise Archer, MP wrote on her Facebook page “While we had a few laughs with some of the educational games, they proved that there is more than ‘meets’ the eye when it comes to what’s healthy and what’s not! With around 27,000 Tasmanians diagnosed with diabetes and a further 10,000 undiagnosed with type-2 diabetes, it is important we learn about the causes, preventable or not”.

Cameroon Senators lead the way in Diabetes Education

Photo: Senator Awanga Zacharie


A two-day intensive training seminar on management of diabetes and its complications was co-sponsored in May by Senator Awanga Zacharie and Senator Wanloo John, members of the Parliamentarians for Diabetes Global Network from Cameroon, in partnership with the Cameroon Diabetes Association. Medical doctors and nurses from very remote areas within the senators’ jurisdiction expressed their appreciation in a letter to the Senators, which read:

We are proud to be a part of this knowledge enriching programme which will not only improve on self-knowledge but will improve on the quality of care issued to the patients we will encounter henceforth, prevent those at risk of developing diabetes and reduce the incidence of medical and psychosocial complications which are frequent in people living with diabetes in the region. We also say thank you to the International Diabetes Federation, The Cameroon Diabetes Association, The Ministry of Public Health Cameroon, The North West Regional Delegation of Public Health, Senator Awanga Zacharie, Senator Wanloo John and the facilitators of this program for their collaborative financial, material, moral and human resource support granted to train these diabetes educators. We will continue to count on your support to make the dream of having total control over diabetes a reality."

Academic Forum for Pacific Women – University of Sydney

Photo:L to R - Hon Joan St Viliamu, Nuie, the Hon Judi Moylan, Dr. Puakena Boreham MP Tuvalu, Hon Teima Onorio, Kiribati, Hon Vainetutai Rose Toki-Bronw, Cook Islands.


Associate Professor Ruth Colagiuri gathered together academic women and women leaders from the Pacific region to discuss leadership in diabetes.

Dr. Boreham MP spoke about her grave concern at the number of people in the Pacific and in her home island of Tuvalu who have diabetes and who suffer serious complications from diabetes:

"Throughout my medical career I have learned and witnessed the devastating impacts of Diabetes in Tuvalu, from all angles in society, ranging from the direct impacts on the patients suffering from diabetes and its complications, to the disruption of the norms within relationships and families of diabetic patients and also those not directly related to them. The severity of the issue have also put a lot of constraints on government structures and functions, due the huge cost and chronicity of the disease burden.

Every year, 75% of Tuvaluans die from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD), mainly Diabetes. Tuvalu, my home, is one of the smallest of the small islands developing states (SIDS), with a low scale of economies. The current NCD crisis in the country is exacerbated by the impacts of the climate change crisis and the global financial crisis. Diet and lack of physical exercise have been reported as the two main factors contributing to the increase in diabetes in the country. The prevalence and burden of the disease will continue to accelerate without the right public health interventions in place, and more importantly without the political will and drive for positive change.

I believe in the power of efficient and effective public health services across all sectors as the right measure in combating NCDs- mainly diabetes. In my capacity as a medical doctor, my role is limited within boundaries, and is more on the management of the patients living with the disease, with whatever resources the system can provide. It was heartbreaking seeing the consequences and complexities of diabetes in the country over the duration of my career in medicine. It was during this period that my passion to help the sick and my people as a whole, evolves from a doctor-patient relationship in closed rooms and operating theatres, to one that involves addressing it at the highest decision making table in the country. This belief for a positive change in the management of Diabetes and other NCDs resulted in my running for the country’s recent election in March this year.

Diabetes is everyone’s business, and a lot needs to be addressed to ensure the right preventive measures are put in place across all sectors to combat Diabetes in the country, this I believe can be achieved with a strong political will and a government that is well equipped to drive the agenda. It is the main reason I am in politics today to advocate for diabetes and health in general at the highest level of decision making in the country, and also to contribute regionally and globally in combating Diabetes."

Leadership in Diabetes Parliament House Australia

Leadership in diabetes was the theme of a dinner in the Australian federal parliament in June hosted by the Parliamentary Diabetes Support Group and Diabetes Australia.

The Prime Minister the Hon Tony Abbott MP sent a video message, the Leader of the Opposition the Hon Bill Shorten, the Minister for Health, the Hon Sussan Ley MP and the Opposition spokesperson on Health the Hon Catherine King, joined special guest speaker, President Elect of the International Diabetes Federation Dr Shaukat Sadikot to talk about diabetes.

A key theme of the evening was to highlight the need for leadership and vision on a global level as well as a local level; and about the importance of forging partnerships across parliaments and across the diabetes community to highlight the growing challenge of managing the diabetes pandemic.

Georgie Peters, a member of the Diabetes Australia, Young Leaders in Diabetes Program spoke passionately on behalf of young people with diabetes. Georgie was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 17 years old. She is a volunteer with camps for children and an active blogger.

Professor Stephen Colagiuri, Professor of Metabolic Health and Co-Director of the Boden Institute at the University of Sydney provided insights into his latest research focusing on development and implementation of evidence based guidelines, diabetes screening and prevention and economic aspects of diabetes and obesity. He is also a Chair of the International Diabetes Federation Clinical Guidelines Taskforce, an adviser to the World Health Organisation and editor-in-chief of Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice.