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Sarah's speech to Parliament on Diabetes

March 16, 2012 1:12 PM

Sarah Ludford, on behalf of the ALDE Group. - Mr President, the diabetes time bomb has stopped ticking and has actually exploded, so I am delighted that the Danish Presidency - as well as Parliament (where we also have Danish influence) - are supportive of a specific focus on diabetes. The fact that it accounts for 10% of our health care costs is reason enough. While the onset of Type I diabetes in children and teenagers is quite sudden, Type 2 diabetes is often not diagnosed until it has been present for some years. This leads to complications such as blindness and kidney and heart disease, which are both devastating and expensive and account for a lot of those costs. As the Commissioner noted, not all diabetes is preventable, and I would specifically mention those 10 to 15% who have Type I. Even tiny babies are getting it. An exclusively horizontal approach does tend to ignore Type I.

There seem to be two main explanations for the lack of urgency to date on diabetes. One is, I think, the perception that people get along with it OK: they just have to be a bit careful about what they eat, and they do not die from it. In fact some do die directly from diabetes, but many more die early from the devastating side-effects that I have just mentioned. I think a second reason for inaction is prejudice - the perception that it is only about a lazy lifestyle. Again, I think an exclusively horizontal approach reinforces that.

The Commission promised only to reflect. I think we are going to need a lot more, and we need to push the Commission firmly to actually develop a diabetes strategy in the form of an EU Council recommendation. I do not accept that the horizontal approach and the specific focus are mutually exclusive.