March 15, 2014

Become “Diabetes Aware” – Challenge to World Cities

Finally! Finally! Finally! Maybe something will happen to stem the diabetes epidemic! However, the disappointing side of this news is that the United States is not a participant. The cities of the world will soon have the opportunity to be officially designated “diabetes aware” cities.

This new program is being created by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the European Connected Health Alliance (ECHAlliance). This is to be launched on World Diabetes Day, November 14, 2014. The IDF and ECHAlliance want to create a global network of “diabetes aware” cities using mobile health tools to promote diabetes awareness and support.

The cities accepted as “diabetes aware” will demonstrate that all sections of the community are committed to creating a healthy urban environment. These cities must demonstrate that local public services, businesses, and institutions understand the challenges faced by people with diabetes and those at risk for diabetes. Examples include providing appropriate nutritional information in restaurants and city authorities ensuring green spaces for safe and accessible space for exercise.

The IDF and ECHAlliance will have an expert group established to draw up the program. Representatives from business, mHealth, and other sectors will be included. Using mobile health tools and apps, key stakeholders in city life will be able to target diabetes aware options for those at risk of diabetes and those with diabetes.

Dr Petra Wilson, IDF's Chief Executive says, "People in urban areas will be particularly vulnerable. Socially and economically, this diabetes epidemic will be very costly. It is important that we find new ways of working across all sectors to provide people with targeted information on healthier lifestyle options."

Brian O'Connor, Chair of the ECHAlliance welcomed the new partnership, "Providing people with mobile information on healthier places to eat, shop and exercise in cities is the first step toward making the healthy choice the easy choice. Information is the key to enabling healthy choices."

With about 10 months to work on this, I sincerely wish them well and ask that those of us in the United States find ways to apply pressure to our organizations to participate. There are a few feeble attempts and often misguided attempts in a few cities in the United States that hardly serve as examples of the needs to serve our citizens.

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