Zam­mit Dimech raises con­cerns of Mal­tese di­a­bet­ics with Euro­pean Com­mis­sioner

Malta Independent - - News -

Di­a­betes is an is­sue of high pri­or­ity that re­quires fur­ther re­search, MEP Francis Zam­mit Dimech said.

New knowl­edge needed to bat­tle the dis­ease can only be ob­tained with more fund­ing. We need to also en­sure that pa­tients re­ceive the nec­es­sary ser­vices and of­fer all sup­port not only to them but also to their fam­i­lies, the MEP added dur­ing a meet­ing of the EU Di­a­betes Work­ing Group at the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in Brus­sels.

Vyte­nis An­driukaitis, Euro­pean Com­mis­sioner for Health, said that it is time to un­der­stand that a holis­tic ap­proach is needed re­gard­ing health, as well as ac­tion at all lev­els – lo­cal, re­gional, na­tional and Euro­pean. He re­marked that more at­ten­tion needs to be given to nu­tri­tion and pre­ven­tion in gen­eral. He said that ad­dress­ing com­mer­cial de­ter­mi­nants of health can help in the fight to com­bat di­a­betes. The Com­mis­sioner also spoke about the need of long term strategies to tackle di­a­betes. Re­fer­ring to the Com­mon Agri­cul­tural Pol­icy he em­pha­sised the need to pro­duce healthy prod­ucts.

Zam­mit Dimech, who co-chairs the EU Di­a­betes Work­ing Group, has over the past year made five ap­peals to the govern­ment on di­a­betes. These are: Pro­vide free Con­tin­u­ous Glu­cose Mon­i­tors; Pro­vide free 4mm pen nee­dles for chil­dren; Pro­vide free nee­dles to di­a­bet­ics in­clud­ing a lancet de­vice; Make a di­a­betic nurse avail­able to pa­tients in Gozo; and set up a Par­lia­men­tary Com­mit­tee on Di­a­betes

Zam­mit Dimech said that while di­a­betes causes suf­fer­ing as it leads to blind­ness am­pu­ta­tion and kid­ney fail­ure, it is not be­ing given suf­fi­cient at­ten­tion by health au­thor­i­ties. Sup­port­ing pa­tients and their fam­i­lies is cru­cial es­pe­cially since di­a­betes con­trib­utes to re­duced qual­ity of life and loss of work­ing ca­pac­ity. Zam­mit Dimech also re­called how the up­dated au­dio-visual me­dia ser­vices di­rec­tive in­tro­duces strict rules on ad­ver­tis­ing and prod­uct place­ment in chil­dren’s pro­grammes in­clud­ing re­duc­ing ex­po­sure to pub­lic­ity for un­healthy food and bev­er­ages. He said that this was cru­cial to pre­vent di­a­betes as of a young age.

Present for the meet­ing was also Chris Del­i­cata, from the Mal­tese Di­a­betes As­so­ci­a­tion and Chair­man for the Euro­pean Coali­tion for Di­a­betes, who said, “Over the years, there were sev­eral state­ments, res­o­lu­tions and dec­la­ra­tions. The mes­sage has al­ways been con­sis­tent fo­cus­ing on a strong call to pri­ori­tise Di­a­betes in the EU health agenda. It is now time to act and put for­ward con­crete ac­tion which will en­sure a bet­ter life­style and well­be­ing for per­sons liv­ing with di­a­betes.”

Jack Del­i­cata shared the pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence. “It is ex­tremely en­cour­ag­ing to hear all that is hap­pen­ing to make peo­ple’s life with di­a­betes eas­ier and less de­mand­ing - in­clud­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of con­tin­u­ous glu­cose mon­i­tor­ing de­vices. At times, cost is al­ways an is­sue for many, so full sup­port from the na­tional gov­ern­ments to pro­vide such de­vices as part of free medic­i­nal sup­port, is vi­tal. As a per­son with di­a­betes, I be­lieve that if gov­ern­ments in­vest in such in­no­vate de­vices and keep them­selves abreast with all the new and more ef­fec­tive in­sulins and other oral med­i­ca­tions, it will un­doubt­edly im­prove one’s life and would re­sult in fewer cases of com­pli­ca­tions and hospi­tal­i­sa­tion costs.”

Ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Di­a­betes Fed­er­a­tion, nearly 1 in 10 peo­ple in Europe have di­a­betes amount­ing to around 60 mil­lion peo­ple. It is es­ti­mated that there are 22 mil­lion un­di­ag­nosed cases in Europe. By 2045, the num­ber of peo­ple with di­a­betes is ex­pected to in­crease to 81 mil­lion.

Next month, MEP Francis Zam­mit Dimech will be or­gan­is­ing a one week event and a pol­icy de­bate at the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in Stras­bourg to mark World Di­a­betes Day.

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