Managing Diabetes During Disasters Is Center Stage at IDF

Lisa Nainggolan  

November 28, 2017

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) 2017 Congress, to be held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, from December 4 to 8, promises to be unique in a number of ways.  

With 330 speakers and thousands of healthcare professionals and diabetes experts from 174 countries, this truly global meeting will feature some novel themes.

IDF president-elect Nam Cho professor of preventive medicine at Ajou University, Suwon, South Korea, told Medscape Medical News that the congress will include new tracks on diabetes, society, and culture; diabetes and disasters; and, for the first time, the diabetic foot as a stand-alone topic.  

This is in addition to the traditional conference tracks covering: basic and clinical science; epidemiology and public health; education and integrated care; diabetes in women and children; the science of diabetes complications; and living with diabetes.

Dr Cho will also — as is customary — present the latest IDF Diabetes Atlas, with up-to-date figures on the global burden of diabetes as it now stands, on the Wednesday of the meeting.

And as well as the usual 5K run, attendees can look forward to classes that will be offered all week long in yoga, Tai Chi, and a similarly gentle martial art from Korea called Taekkyon.  

There will be free shuttle buses from all congress hotels grouped by zone, from Monday, December 4 to Friday, December 8 from 6:30 AM until 9 PM. The full schedule is available on the congress website.

And in any free time, attendees can visit the recently constructed mosque of Sheikh Zayed, the largest in the United Arab Emirates and the sixth largest mosque in the world, as well as the newly opened branch of the Louvre art gallery.

Average temperature in Abu Dhabi is 21°C (69°F) in December, with highs of 26°C (79°F) and a low of 15°C (59°F).

Building a Diabetes Disaster Response Network

Dr Cho said that "no other organization in the world is considering how societal change and the loss of cultural values is contributing to the increase in prevalence of diabetes and the diabetes epidemic.

"We at IDF will be sharing many examples of how individual countries have changed, with a particular focus on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), given the location of this year's meeting," he noted, adding that there have been "dramatic changes" in this region that have led, in the case of some countries, to 20% of the population being affected by type 2 diabetes.  

There will also be numerous presentations under the theme of "Diabetes and Disasters" on Thursday, including details on a recent project delivered in conjunction with a number of other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to help Syrian refugees living with diabetes in neighboring countries.  

Dr Cho said he recently visited a refugee camp on the border of Lebanon, where conditions were atrocious, to "see how we are helping to tackle diabetes among the people living there."  

And another session that day will describe how the NGO Santé Diabète helped people with diabetes in the northern region of Mali following a coup, with the hope that the lessons learned there can be applied in other similar circumstances.

There are also sessions on diabetes and migrants throughout the week, and all of these presentations will culminate in a final round-table consultation with a number of NGOs to discuss building a diabetes and disasters response network.  

Type 1 Diabetes Stats, Retinopathy, and Technology Feature in First 2 Days  

Other highlights include — on the first full day of the meeting, Tuesday — a symposium on the global increase in type 1 diabetes, which is rising at a rate of between 3% and 5% per year.  

And there is also a particular focus on diabetic retinopathy this year, "with so many people losing their eyesight," so better screening programs are needed for this, explained Dr Cho, and the first sessions on this topic will be held on Tuesday morning, as well as a "meet-the-expert" session later that day.  

Also on Tuesday afternoon, there are symposia on digital health and modern technologies and an overview of diabetes tools and apps — "What's New, What Works, and What Do Patients Really Want?"

Tuesday will also see results from two large trials. The first will be yearlong outcomes from the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DIRECT), which should determine what proportion of the participants with type 2 diabetes can reachieve a nondiabetes HbA1c level following an intensive, three-phase weight-loss program compared with usual care.

And data from the DISCOVER program, looking at worldwide treatment patterns and outcomes in patients with type 2 diabetes initiating second-line therapy, will also be reported.   

On Wednesday morning, there will be a debate on the ever-popular topic of whether low-carb diets are the answer to obesity management for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.  

And in the afternoon, there will be presentations on incremental findings from a number of cardiovascular-outcomes trials in type 2 diabetes that have already been reported this year at the ADA and EASD meetings — EXSCEL with AstraZeneca's once-weekly version of the GLP-1 receptor agonist drug, exenatide (Bydureon); more from DEVOTE with insulin degludec (Tresiba, Novo Nordisk); and fresh insight from the ACE trial with the α-glucosidase inhibitor acarbose (Glucobay/Precose/Prandase, Bayer).

Thursday and Friday See Focus on Diabetic Foot  

On Thursday morning, there will be updates on a number of diabetes-prevention trials, including the Da Qing trial from China, the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study, and the US Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study (DPPOS).  

There will also be a series of presentations that day from the first-ever dedicated track on diabetic foot, "which is causing so many problems all over the world," said Dr Cho, and has too long been neglected, hidden among the general vascular complications of diabetes.  

For example, in his home country of South Korea, he explained that despite a great universal healthcare system, "there are no podiatrists," so patients with diabetic foot are "passed around like ping-pong balls, from orthopedic surgeons — for whom this is a minor issue — to vascular surgeons."  

"We need to bring much more awareness of this issue."  

Also on Thursday will be a symposium on hypoglycemia and time in zone, detailing the importance of outcomes beyond HbA1c for the management of diabetes, as detailed recently by the ADA and a number of other organizations.  

On Friday morning, there will be more on the diabetic foot, in which the implementation of lessons learned from a number of translational research projects included in the BRIDGES program of the IDF, will be discussed. Other projects covered here will include gestational diabetes and peer education.  

The last day of the meeting will also see the obligatory discussion on sugar taxes and whether they really affect obesity rates and a talk continuing the theme of a recent American Diabetes Association/American Association of Diabetes Educators publication about how important it is to use appropriate language when talking to diabetes patients.  

Dr Cho also noted that there is a renewed focus on diabetes and women at this year's congress: "We have identified 30 to 50 women who will advocate to give this topic a stronger voice."  

Follow Lisa Nainggolan on Twitter: @lisanainggolan1 . For more diabetes and endocrinology news, follow us on Twitter and on Facebook .  


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