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.
“The focus of the WDF has been catalysing change, in order to help others do more,” he said.
WDF has supported 584 projects that have trained more than 55,000 health care professionals and treated more than 8.6 million patients to date, he added. But those are the numbers collected during the projects’ duration. Because WDF projects are designed for sustainability, “many more are helped after the project´s completion,” he said.
Going forward, WDF will work to increase funding for combatting NCDs and break down healthcare system silos.
“Silos don´t help in providing prevention and care. Diabetes is linked to maternal health, communicable diseases such as TB and COVID, and more,” he said.
Integrated approaches are the way forward, he added.
“Building a system to address diabetes builds a platform to address other NCDs - the risk factors are the same,” he said. “Building a programme around diabetes is a fundamental basis for strengthening primary care.”
Two guests from Tanzania - Prof Kaushik Ramaiya, CEO at Shree Hindu Mandal Hospital, and Dr Omary Ubuguyu, Director of Curative Services at the Ministry of Health – explained how their country has moved from very few diabetes services to ‘one stop’ diabetes services for much of its population.
“We started small, with a container clinic - this cost less than $6000. The important thing was partnerships, to make sure that whatever we were doing is sustainable,” Dr Ramaiya said. “If you want to have a sustainable programme, right from genesis you need to involve all (the relevant) stakeholders.”
He also noted that Tanzania is empowering people with diabetes to ensure they play a very important role. The Forum’s four panellists agreed on the importance of a patient-centric approach.
“We need to have patients at the heart of decision making - where change is happening. Giving agency to patients and caregivers gives benefits and improves outcomes. Empowering patients, giving and creating opportunities creates a very beautiful ripple effect,” said Ms Aigerim Zhaparova, a patient advocate who has worked with WDF’s partners in Kyrgyzstan.
Stronger systems and engaged stakeholders
Mr Andrea Atzori, Head of International Relations, Doctors with Africa (CUAMM), noted that CUAMM seeks a strong connection with the community in each country where it operates.
“The first partnership we look for is the local health system that can grow with our support,” he said. “Integration is the key word for us. We think that strengthening diabetes care and prevention is a great opportunity for the health system to improve primary and secondary care.”
Dr Noel Somasundaram, Consultant Endocrinologist at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka, and Dr Cristina Parsons Perez from the NCD Alliance pointed out the importance of including policymakers and civil society in efforts to combat diabetes.
“We have trained and capacity-built more than 1 million adults, including existing staff. We have tried to cover almost the entire population. All this done through policy,” Dr Somasundaram said.
Dr Perez added, “At the NCD Alliance, we believe that a strong, vibrant and mobilised civil society is essential to drive national progress and meet global targets.”
The event was moderated by James Eustace, global health expert and Partner at Dalberg Advisors. It was organised in connection with WDF’s 20th anniversary on March 12.
The Foundation is marking the milestone with an anniversary website, social media campaigns and other activities throughout 2022.
Anniversary Online Forum highlights include:
- Strong partnerships and local ownership support long-term sustainability
- Building diabetes capacity strengthens primary care
- Empowering patients creates a ripple effect
- Projects should be integrated in existing health systems
- Care must be connected with the community
- Policymakers and civil society should be involved in efforts to combat NCDs