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Addressing diabetes as a public health challenge in the Eastern Mediterranean Region

13 Oct 2021

This is a statement made at the 68th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean on Addressing diabetes as a public health challenge in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.


Honourable Chair, Distinguished Delegates,

The World Heart Federation applauds the WHO for its leadership in addressing diabetes worldwide and welcomes the adoption of resolution WHA74.4 on reducing the burden of noncommunicable diseases through strengthening prevention and control of diabetes. We also congratulate EMRO and are impressed by your offices impressive action plan as presented today

The number of people living with diabetes has tripled in the past 20 years. Today, approximately 500 million people live with diabetes. Without decisive action, this number will continue to rise. Since 2000, diabetes-related mortality has increased by 70% [1]. The condition has now become a top-ten cause of global death.

Diabetes is a leading cause of stroke, cardiovascular and kidney diseases, blindness, oral diseases, and lower-limb amputation. These co-morbidities place a heavy burden on individuals, families, and economies. Diabetes particularly threatens economic advancement in low- and middle-income countries where 79% of people with diabetes live. In addition, as you are aware, COVID-19 has hospitalised and claimed the lives of people with diabetes disproportionately, underscoring the elevated risk from infectious diseases to people with the condition.

This year marks the centenary of the discovery of therapeutic insulin. Yet, tens of thousands of people with type 1 diabetes, who need insulin to survive, and more than 30 million with type 2 diabetes, who require insulin, do not have access to a reliable and affordable supply [2].

For these reasons, we urge Member States of the Eastern Mediterranean region to adopt the presented action plan and:

  • Collaborate with WHO in implementing the Global Diabetes Compact.
  • Develop targets on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, and agree on how to achieve them.
  • Take meaningful steps to increase access to effective and quality products, including insulin; and
  • Ensure the transparency of markets for diabetes medicines, including insulin and supplies.

We thank you for your attention.


[1] WHO: The top 10 leading causes of death. 9 December 2020.

[2] Access to insulin: applying the concept of security of supply to medicines.