How Europe fares at the World Diabetes Congress

Europe has the highest prevalence of children with type 1 diabetes – fact or fiction? This and many more new figures are part of an updated mapping – or Diabetes Atlas as it is known – of how many people currently live with diabetes throughout the world, and projections for the future. It’s cut across different countries and regions, and is being launched this week by the International Diabetes Federation’s (IDF) at the World Diabetes Congress in Vancouver.

It’s an invaluable tool that helps provide an overview of the scale of the challenge here in Europe and beyond. “By arming ourselves with greater knowledge, we will be able to develop the tools and programs required to bring the rise of diabetes under control,” explains IDF. 

This 7th Diabetes Atlas confirms that, as in every other part of the world, the prevalence of diabetes in Europe is growing. It is estimated that 59.8 million people in Europe are living with diabetes, up from 52 million people in 2014. That’s 9% of Europe’s population. However, the incidence of diabetes and deaths from diabetes are lower in Europe than in most other regions as the management of the disease is better supported by health systems. Yet, the growing prevalence of this disease and the region’s ageing population each year place a greater burden on Europe’s health systems. With over 21,000 new cases per year, Europe also has the highest recorded number of children with type 1 diabetes in the world, resulting in the need for effective diabetes care over a lifetime.

This week at the World Diabetes Congress, over 12,000 delegates will discuss how to tackle the global diabetes epidemic brought into sharp focus by the new Atlas. While mapping the scale of the challenge is crucial, it can’t paint the whole picture of this disease. Millions of people successfully live with diabetes - these are athletes, business leaders, students and parents. Thanks to better education and better treatments, people with diabetes can live long and fulfilled lives without having to give up their dreams. The congress reflects this, by dedicating one of its six work streams to “living with diabetes”. 

No therapeutic area has a deeper heritage at Lilly than diabetes. For more than 90 years – from our partnership with the University of Toronto that made insulin available in 1923 to our broad and innovative portfolio today – Lilly has relentlessly worked to find solutions that make life better for people with diabetes. 

Our drive to innovate is far from over. Medical innovation – finding ways to improve upon the progress we started 92 years ago – is an important part of the solution, and the congress will shine a light on some of the latest scientific breakthroughs.  As the Atlas shows, diabetes prevalence is higher than ever, so we must learn more about this disease, and share more stories of successful treatment and prevention, if we’re ever to push diabetes off the map.