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New national strategy for diabetes

Australia is developing a new national diabetes strategy in the wake of initiatives led by the United Nations and World Health Organization, according to an article published online in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Diabetes and related non-communicable diseases account for over 60 per cent of the world's annual deaths and represent a crippling financial burden through lost productivity due to premature deaths, absenteeism, and early retirement and, in countries like Australia, lead to increased expenditure on pensions.

Associate Professor Ruth Colagiuri, director of health and sustainability at the University of Sydney's Menzies Centre for Health Policy, and her coauthors wrote that until recently the global response to diabetes had bordered on apathy.

However, they wrote, the United Nations now recognises diabetes and related NCDs as "a major challenge to human and economic development, leading to the creation of "an action-oriented policy, frameworks and monitoring requirements, including a global target of 0 per cent increase in diabetes and obesity by 2025, the designation of 14 November as World Diabetes Day, and possible inclusion of NCDs in the post 2015 sustainable development goals.

"In recent years, some of the commitment and momentum [of Australia's original National Diabetes Strategy and Implementation Plan launched in 1998] has been lost, the authors wrote.

However, in December 2013, the federal government announced a new National Diabetes Strategy Advisory Group, which will report to the health minister in April 2015 and will almost certainly recommend adopting the targets and indicators in the WHO global monitoring framework.

Additionally, the Melbourne Declaration on Diabetes - establishing a new global advocacy program and network of parliamentarians - came out of the World Diabetes Congress in December 2013.

"However, the most arduous part of the task - widespread implementation of the new global policies - still lies ahead, and success can only be claimed when measurable population-based improvements in diabetes and related NCD outcomes are achieved, the authors concluded.

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