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MEPs on World Diabetes Day

MEPs have agreed that European Commission and member states are to adopt an EU strategy to combat the steep rise in diabetes through prevention (of Type 2) to improve treatment and boost research.
32 million people across Europe have the disease, or 10% of the population of the EU - predicted to be 50 million in 2025 - with 325,000 deaths a year attributed to it.

Nessa Childers
Nessa Childers

Childers says EU must focus on food to prevent rise in Type 2 Diabetes

Speaking in the European Parliament on World Diabetes Day, Nessa Childers MEP said that the EU should focus on food, and in particular healthy food to prevent the spread of Type 2 Diabetes.  "There is poor understanding about the cause of Type 2 Diabetes, and widespread lack of knowledge about the severity of the disease.

"Diabetes does not receive the same sense of urgency as cancer, heart disease or HIV/AIDS; it's somehow seen as a manageable disease. But in fact it causes major challenges for individuals - with devastating complications.  But Type 2 is preventable through changes in lifestyle, diet and exercise."

This lack of understanding about the disease is contributing to what is now an EU wide epidemic of diabetes.  The link between Type 2 Diabetes and obesity is well known.  Therefore food policy must be top of EP agenda, including tackling foods with high fats and sugars and making healthier food more affordable.

With more than half of the adult population and a quarter of children in the European Union currently overweight or obese, we must acknowledge that this is now very much a European problem

Marian Harkin
Marian Harkin

"Increase Diabetes screening now", says Independent MEP Marian Harkin

Independent MEP Marian Harkin today (14 November) called on the HSE to "immediately honour its commitments concerning eye screening and footcare in order to combat the increase in diabetes-related health issues in Ireland".

Speaking in the European Parliament on the occasion of World Diabetes Day, Harkin argued that "Diabetes Action Ireland estimates that the disease is now the single biggest cause of amputation, stroke, blindness and kidney failure in the country".

She added that "with 190,000 sufferers in 2011 - projected to rise to 280, 000 by 2030 - we are experiencing nothing less than a Diabetes epidemic in Ireland, with major implications for our healthcare system: currently, 7.7% or our health budget goes to Diabetes and this will continue to increase".

"As such," said the Ireland North & West MEP, "we face two problems: first to reduce the incidence of Diabetes and secondly to diagnose the disease as early as possible in order to minimise the health implications for patients and the costs to the health service".

HSE must honour its existing commitments

She noted that "the HSE in its 2010 Service Plan committed to having retinopathy screening and a national footcare programme in place by 2012, and while some progress has been made, we are still a long way from completing this plan. I am hereby calling on the Executive to make this an immediate priority and speed up the rate of implementation".

"Taking these steps would have the biggest impact and provide the most long-term value for money," the Independent MEP concluded.