16. Sep 2016

Colombo Declaration is ‘just the beginning’

Gwendolyn Carleton
South Asian leaders have pledged to make the link between maternal health and diabetes a public health priority. It’s a promising step in a growing global effort, advocates for healthier pregnancies say.
Dr Rajitha Senaratne, Sri Lanka’s Minister for Health and Indigenous Medicine, signs the Colombo Declaration as leaders in maternal health and diabetes look on.
On 8 September, more than 300 leaders in maternal healthcare and diabetes and other delegates from South Asia endorsed the Colombo Declaration – a document demanding urgent action to address the link between maternal health and diabetes. The signing was a highlight of the 1st Asia Pacific Congress on Diabetes, Hypertension & Metabolic Syndrome in Pregnancy in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and the country’s Minister for Health and Indigenous Medicine was the first to sign.
“If we pledge to do our best for women with hyperglycaemia in pregnancy, we will also be doing our best for their children, and for ensuring healthy generations to follow. This is the commitment of the Colombo Declaration,” explained Dr Hema Divakar, a Bangalore-based gynaecologist and congress co-president, to the gathered delegates.
Delegates who signed the Declaration pledged to support efforts to:
address the link between maternal health and diabetes as a public health priority 
increase public awareness about hyperglycaemia in pregnancy and its impact on maternal and child health to encourage preconception counselling, antenatal care and post-natal follow up 
accelerate the implementation of the FIGO GDM guidelines in South Asia
ensure all pregnant women attending health facilities are tested for hyperglycaemia using a single-step procedure 
ensure post-partum follow up with a focus on the high risk mother child pair post-GDM pregnancy 
develop, support and carry out research for discovery of new tools, treatments and procedures to improve point of care diagnostics, monitoring, prevention and management of HIP and the ability to engage, counsel and track the mother-child pair over the long term keeping in mind the health care delivery structures of South Asia. 
encourage task shifting and role based training to build capacity for prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment 
promote and celebrate a national GDM Awareness Day as an instrument to bring public attention and raise awareness of the problem
“The Colombo Declaration was an important step towards greater action and awareness, but it’s just the beginning,” says Dr Anil Kapur, Chairman of the World Diabetes Foundation and congress co-president, noting that another congress gathering key policymakers and healthcare providers is planned for Bangalore in 2018. 
In the meantime, The International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology (FIGO) will lead efforts to roll out training, promote guidelines and build capacity for the management of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy worldwide. The organisation and its partners are also working to collect data illustrating the size of the problem – and the benefits that come from addressing it. 
The 1st Asia Pacific Congress was organised by the South Asia Initiative for Diabetes in Pregnancy (SAIDIP), Diabetes in Pregnancy Asia Pacific (DIPAP), the Ministry of Health Sri Lanka, the World Health Organization-Sri Lanka Country Office and the World Diabetes Foundation.
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