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International Diabetes Federation

By David Mendosa

Last Update: March 1, 2000

The Web site of the International Diabetes Federation is beginning to fill its role as the preeminent site with a global focus on diabetes. With new staff at its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, the IDF has plans to develop the site into a truly international one.

World Diabetes Day…is November 14

Right now the only other site with worldwide emphasis on diabetes is World Health Organization Diabetes Home Page (WHO). While it is responsible for helping the organization's 190 member countries, this organization has let its work on its diabetes Web site lapse for the past few years. There doesn't seem to be anything more recent than 1997 on the site.

WHO does have estimates for the number of people with diabetes on-line, but they are tucked away in a hard-to-find corner of the site at Diabetes Databases. The key estimate is that 100 million people in the developing world and another 54 million in developed countries—a grand total of 154 million—now have diabetes. It's not clear who made this estimate and when.

Too bad that these numbers differ from those at Global Prevalence of Diabetes. This 1994 report, released to correspond with the 15th International Diabetes Federation Congress in Kobe, Japan, estimated that 175 million people around the world now have diabetes.

Let's hope that the IDF can reconcile these statistics. Worldwide prevalence statistics will be coming to the IDF site, says Anne Pierson, the new IDF Public Relations Manager, who is responsible for the site. She called me from Brussels in February, just after taking this job.

Right now the best part of the site is its "What is Diabetes?" section, Anne says. "From people's point of view they like that section, because of its clear answers. This is the section that gets the most hits."

A major upgrade to the site will be to put it in the organization's three principle languages, English, French, and Spanish. Those are the three languages that the IDF uses to publish three separate editions of its quarterly magazine, Diabetes Voice.

The site will probably go multilingual by the time of the federation's 17th International Congress in November. To be hosted by the Mexican Diabetes Federation, the congress had a separate Web site.

Anne also plans to make the site easier to use. Right now its home page consists of an incredible 81 separate elements, making it slow to load on all but broadband servers. Having visited this site often during the past several years, it makes me really appreciate my new DSL connection.

A non-governmental organization, the IDF consists of 164 member associations in 130 countries. Divided into seven geographic regions, the IDF uses the Amercian Diabetes Association as the staff office supporting the North American Region administratively, says Linda Cann, director of Professional Education and International Affairs for the ADA.

"The ADA is a dues-paying member organization of the International Diabetes Federation," according to Linda, who is the contact person between the organizations. "We were probably one of the founding members and support it both financially and through in-kind services. The IDF has an important function, and we do what we can to help it out."

A major project of the IDF's North American and South and Central American Regions came from the decision three years ago to collaborate on a project called the Declaration of the Americas (DOTA), Linda says. Funded every three years by the IDF, the Pan American Health Organization, and six of the largest companies in the diabetes industry, DOTA is dedicated to promoting better health for people with or at risk of diabetes in the Americas. The organization has an extensive Web site at Declaration of the Americas on Diabetes.

But worldwide the major activity of the IDF comes only one day a year. It is World Diabetes Day, co-sponsored by the World Health Organization. This is your day—along with 154-175 million other people with diabetes—and it is coming November 14. Mark your calendars. 

The American Diabetes Association originally published this article on its Web site as one of my “About the Internet” columns.

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