The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) 19th Annual World Diabetes Congress had more than 12,000 delegates in attendance at the event which was held in Cape Town, South Africa from December 3-7, 2006. The event was designed to attract the highest level of international expertise in diabetes, provide a platform for discussion of the latest scientific advances in the field, and offer practical information on diabetes care, advocacy and awareness. Attendees have written that the Congress was characterized by enthusiastic organizers, a great scientific program, and a smooth, professionally-conducted meeting. Unfortunately, unless the information presented at events like this is widely disseminated, the benefit of the information may not reach patients who could potentially benefit from having it. Although I did not attend, I have been able to review many of the relevant presentations and read the extracts, and note some of the accomplishments from that meeting, including the recent U.N. Resolution on Diabetes. I have tried to assemble a few elements from the World Diabetes Congress here. A full program for the World Diabetes Congress is available for the time being here.
Life for a Child
A major theme at the Congress was the increasing prevalence of diabetes in children, therefore experts urged for immediate action to prevent unnecessary death and disability. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) declared 2007 as the "IDF year of the child" and aims, among other things, to firmly establish the message that no child should die of diabetes. If not properly managed, diabetes can interfere with the normal developmental tasks of childhood and adolescence, including succeeding in school and the transition to adulthood. In young children, frequent episodes of very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) may result in brain abnormalities and impaired cognitive function. For any child in any country, the diagnosis of diabetes is devastating. But with access to appropriate education, insulin and equipment, most children can learn to manage their diabetes effectively. As a result, proper diabetes education is vital to reducing complications and saving lives.
A symposium was held on "Life for a Child" and the speakers included Nicole Johnson Baker (Miss America 1999, and Program Ambassador), Dr. Graham Ogle (Program Manager), Dr. Marguerite De Clerck (Congo), and Dr. Larry Deeb (ADA President, Medicine & Science, and Rotarian). The Life for a Child Program provides life-saving diabetes supplies to over 500 children in 13 countries. Find out more at www.lifeforachild.idf.org. Also, be sure to view the presentation (see the "Presentations" section below) on "Life for a Child With Diabetes". This was, in my humble opinion, one of the more moving presentations, and really gave me a different perspective on my life versus what it might be if I was born elsewhere! After seeing this, I realize how lucky I am to live in the U.S., where insulin is readily available. Last June, I had the pleasure of meeting a representative from the Insulin for Life organization, which is based in Australia. I have a newfound respect for the work done by this incredible organization, and feel privileged to have met one of the selfless people who work for that organization.
Public Service Announcement (PSA)
I learned of another noteworthy Congressional accomplishment from fellow diabetes blogger Karen Siegel, and I thought this one was really worth sharing. A Public Service Announcement (PSA) entitled "Break the Silence" was filmed at the World Diabetes Congress, and the announcement is seen from the perspectives of 25 IDF Youth Ambassadors from around the world. Now, thanks to YouTube, you can see that terrific PSA here. I'm not sure if I can embed videos here, but the link above will get you to the same place.
Without a doubt, the biggest highlight of the Congress was probably the 300+ presentations, and now, many of them are available (or will be soon) for viewing here. I would encourage anyone to spend some time reviewing the presentations that are of interest. The presentations include a slideshow and audio commentary, so you can spend a fair amount of time on them. I found the "Hypoglycemia: a continuing problem" and "Restoring insulin secretion in type 1 diabetes" and "The prevention and reversal of type 1 diabetes in humans: a close reality or an elusive dream?" presentations very informative, but there are so many here (my compliments to the International Diabetes Federation for their terrific webcast) that you are bound to find one (or more) of interest!
Diabetes Blogger's Commentary
I would just add that our fellow diabetes bloggers from Close Concerns did a great job chronicling their impressions of the events taking place in Cape Town as they actually unfolded in December, and you can catch their thoughts and impressions here if you didn't see them in December: