UCL is partnering with Novo Nordisk and the Steno Diabetes Center – a world leading institution in diabetes care and prevention – to launch the Cities Changing Diabetes initiative, an ambitious new partnership programme to fight urban diabetes.
The Cities Changing Diabetes programme will initially launch in Mexico City, with cities in North America, Europe and Asia to follow.
The aim of the programme is to map where the problem of diabetes is most acute, share solutions and drive concrete action to fight it in cities around the world. To do so, the partners will work with a range of additional local partners including healthcare professionals, city authorities, urban planners, businesses, academics and community leaders, amongst others.
Following the programme's initial discovery phase, UCL will work with Novo Nordisk and the Steno Diabetes Center and a range of policy makers and experts drawn from health authorities, the private sector and the volunteer sector to announce multi-year action plans detailing the commitments of its campaign in each of the cities that will be part of the programme.
UCL's contribution will be led by Professor David Napier, Professor of Medical Anthropology in the UCL Department of Anthropology. He will be leading a team of research staff who will gather data on the ground about diabetes epidemiology in urban environments. His involvement was facilitated by UCL Consultants, an independent company wholly owned by UCL and one of the UK's leading providers of academic consultancy services.
The rise of diabetes is one of the world's most serious health challenges. By 2030, it is estimated that more than half a billion people will suffer from diabetes. Today, nearly two thirds of everyone with diabetes live in cities, and those who move to cities are significantly more likely to develop diabetes than those who remain in rural settings.
From rising wealth and increasing consumption, to more sedentary lifestyles and inequality of access to health care, urban living presents a major challenge to health and has become one of the key drivers behind the acceleration of global diabetes.
"The global diabetes epidemic is an emergency in slow motion," says Lars Rebien Sørensen, chief executive officer, Novo Nordisk. "While there are many factors fuelling the growth trajectory of diabetes, the most striking contributor is urbanisation and the growth of cities. The 'Cities Changing Diabetes' programme is our call to arms for people around the world to work together to tackle this for the long-term."
David Napier, Professor of Medical Anthropology in the UCL Department of Anthropology, said:
"We are delighted to bring our expertise to bear through supporting research that will underpin Cities Changing Diabetes. We will be working on the ground to gather data across the globe, setting a baseline to the challenge of diabetes, and acting as a platform for future action. Working with Cities Changing Diabetes, we aim to make an impact that is sustainable into the future, giving new momentum to this global initiative."
The Minister of Health of Mexico City, Dr Armando Ahued Ortega, states that early detection of diabetes and care hereof are one of his administration's public health priorities.
"We have implemented large-scale initiatives to fight overweight, obesity and diabetes and we are starting to see the results. However, diabetes continues to constitute a heavy burden for the city's health services. I look forward to seeing the results from the research phase initiated today, as they will provide a solid foundation for developing an integrated response to tackle this public health emergency. I am very proud of Mexico City taking the global lead to fight urban diabetes."
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