I am writing this at the end of one of the most challenging years for each and every one of us, for more than a generation. As I embarked on my term as President this time last year, IDF was filled with enthusiasm, unity, determination and ideas to implement during 2020. Then came COVID-19, which has impacted the activities of the Federation in various ways.
As a result of the pandemic and the restrictions put in place to tackle it, IDF staff have been working virtually since March and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. We were also forced to postpone the IDF Diabetes Complications Congress in Lisbon, scheduled for December, and are monitoring the global situation closely to ensure a safe and successful IDF Congress in Bangkok next year.
On a more positive note, we have gradually resumed relationships with many partners and organisations that had severed their ties with IDF in recent years. This fills myself and the IDF Board of Directors with renewed confidence as we approach a milestone year for the diabetes community - the centenary of the discovery of insulin. An occasion that provides a unique opportunity for the global diabetes community to come together, advocate for change and shape the future of diabetes.
Throughout the pandemic, IDF has worked hard to ensure that the needs of people with diabetes are not left behind and medication and treatments remain available and accessible to all who require them. My fear is that the pandemic will lead to a switch back to greater interest in infectious diseases at the expense of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes. We have therefore been working very closely with our Regions and multinational partners such as the NCD Alliance, the Global Coalition for Circulatory Health, WHO, PAHO and the UN, to ensure that diabetes remains prominent on the global health agenda. Today, more than ever, diabetes should command similar attention, recognition and resources afforded to other diseases and conditions.
2020 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale and was designated by WHO as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. This informed our decision to select The Nurse and Diabetes as the theme for diabetes awareness month and World Diabetes Day in November. Nurses play a critical role in providing diabetes care and helping people with diabetes to understand and manage their condition. Increased investment and training are required to help nurses fulfil and expand their role and IDF developed a free online course in the IDF School of Diabetes to support this. In addition, earlier this month I was delighted to launch a new project in countries in Sub-Saharan West Africa to improve diabetes education for primary care physicians and nurses in that region.
The past year has been a year to forget in many ways but I am optimistic that 2021 will be much better. I am counting on the passion and dedication I have seen within the IDF membership, my fellow Board members and IDF personnel to help our organisation drive the changes needed to improve care for the 463 million living with diabetes and the millions more at risk.
I wish all our friends across the world a very happy, safe and successful 2021 and look forward to continued and enhanced collaboration to achieve IDF's mission and vision.
Prof. Andrew Boulton
President, International Diabetes Federation