Sunday, November 14, 2010

WDD and November as NDM

Today is World Diabetes Day (WDD), this day was chosen because it's the birthday of one of the discovers of the hormone insulin, Frederick Banting. One unique element about WDD is that this day became an official United Nations Day in 2007 with the passage of United Nation (UN) Resolution 61/225, and this is quite unique because it's the first-ever day UN day marking a non-communicable disease. This is supposed to help raise awareness about diabetes on a worldwide basis, although the reality is that this day is really more for the segment of the population who do NOT have diabetes (or people whose family lives have not been impacted by the disease), as persons with diabetes (PWDs) and their families already have 365 days with diabetes every year (366 days in leap years) so few need any public service announcements to remind them about it.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about this day.

First, the media coverage is inconsistent and frequently misleading and too often inaccurate. Also, does designating a day to these diseases give the world the rest of the year to forget about diabetes, continue their collective ignorance about the disease the rest of the year? Finally, the notion of diabetes education and prevention, which is the theme from the years 2009 until 2013, is kind of lost on me. Nothing I could have done would have prevented me from getting autoimmune-mediated type 1 diabetes, and I already know far more than I want to about diabetes.

I never volunteered to educate the world's ignorant masses by correcting inaccuracies in news stories printed in the media, on television or on the radio, and frankly, I shouldn't have to. The mere fact that I should have to do this is indicative of a collective failure that the day's goals have yet to be met (at least to some degree, anyway).

Having complained about the shortcomings of WDD, I do believe in the effort behind it and what it has potential to do. The American Diabetes Association did a minor press release, but could have done so much more. This topic came up in the Roche Social Media Summit this summer, and I think the ADA was more than a little embarrassed at not putting more effort behind WDD. As it stands, this year, The Empire State Building was lit up this year in blue and white NOT thanks to efforts from the ADA, but to efforts by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Still, I think getting more information in front of many people is helpful, and although there's not yet a damn thing the ADA or anyone else can do to prevent type 1 diabetes (and they have done little to help fund research that companies like Diamyd that is actually pursuing a vaccine for type 1 diabetes that also has potential to actually prevent type 1 from occurring (see HERE for my interview with this company), the issue of prevention is still important when it comes to diabetes as a whole. Time will tell what the cost will be to vaccinate kids for type 1, and I wonder whether all the brew ha-ha about vaccinations and autism thanks to celebrities like Jenny McCarthy might make these efforts unnecessarily challenging.

The Diabetes Hands Foundation (best known for operating the online community sponsored the Big Blue Test, and although the video effort met the number of views to guarantee funds matching from Roche to help, you should still check that out HERE.

Beyond that stuff, however, I'd like to mention another effort that is continuing throughout the month of November called "" (for more background, see HERE). The following is a video summary of this campaign:

You can catch one of my photos at the top, right-hand part of the letter "C" on the mosaic of photos, although my plans are to upload others, and I would encourage my readers to do so, too! The DRI has a singular focus on a cure, and I believe their collaborative, open approach (rather than keeping promising discoveries to themselves) is the right approach towards finding a cure. If only other diabetes organizations did the same thing!

Hopefully, your World Diabetes Day was spent sharing positive stories about progress on diabetes research, rather than defending if you can eat something. Just remember, President Obama declared November 2010 to be National Diabetes Month (NDM) -- you can catch my earlier post HERE, and there's still time to participate in all of these events!

No comments: