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A Foundation is Born

This article was originally published on the occasion of WDF's 20th anniversary on

When we talk about the origins of the World Diabetes Foundation, there’s a lot of focus on the conflict that set it in motion – and rightly so. 

In 2001, there was a public debate around access to HIV medications. Novo Nordisk and 40 other pharmaceutical companies took legal action to block a South African law that would effectively suspend patent rights. 

Watch: WDF Anniversary Online Forum

On March 30, the World Diabetes Foundation invited its global partners to a conversation about how innovative partnership models and sustainable investments can reverse the rising tide of diabetes and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). 

The one-hour Anniversary Online Forum was opened by Dr Anil Kapur, Chairman of the Board, World Diabetes Foundation. The Foundation works through partnerships, with a focus on local ownership, capacity building and empowerment to ensure sustainability, he said.

Creative campaign sets out to improve diabetes awareness in India

In October 2021, a proposal dubbed Ok Tata Horn Please won the Diabetes Storytelling Lab 2021 in India. The team of storytellers and community leaders received $15,000 to turn the idea into reality.

The team behind OK Tata Horn Please targeted a segment of the population that is highly vulnerable to diabetes: long-distance truck drivers. They proposed an animated film series, media broadcasts and health checks to assess truck drivers’ health and increase their diabetes awareness.

WDF marks 20 years of improving lives together

On March 12, 2002, a new foundation dedicated to diabetes prevention and care was born.

At Novo Nordisk’s 2002 Annual General Meeting, CEO Lars Rebien Sørensen explained the idea. The company proposed creating the World Diabetes Foundation, an independent foundation that would work through partnerships, pursue sustainable, scalable approaches, and answer to a Board of Directors with expertise in diabetes, access to health and development assistance. 

2022 fundraiser: Increasing diabetes awareness and care in Somaliland

Situated on the eastern horn of Africa, Somaliland is an autonomous region that declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991. It has escaped much of the chaos and violence that plague Somalia, and has a working political system, government institutions, a police force and its own currency. Yet it is not internationally recognised, and its economy is still in its developing stage. As a result, poverty and unemployment are widespread.

WDF funds five new projects in the second half of 2021

In the second half of 2021, WDF supported projects that will build capacity and improve care within hyperglycaemia in pregnancy, TB-diabetes comorbidity, and rural populations. A school-based project in South Africa will work to prevent diabetes by educating children and their teachers and improving their lunches. Another new project takes learnings from past efforts to a new, regional level with the help of an important new partner, WHO/ Europe.

Global Diabetes Walk 2021 unites individuals in taking steps

Perhaps 2021 is the year that the Global Diabetes Walk changed from what it used to be – thousands of people walking side by side – to something new. 

When restrictions on large gatherings forced us to rethink how we mark World Diabetes Day, WDF turned to individuals and communities, asking them to create their own Walks based on local conditions. It might have been the best decision in the Walk history yet – and led to many new connections between WDF and passionate individuals worldwide.