I arrived in Vancouver at about 2pm on Saturday and by 4pm, I had taken my seat in the Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue, surrounded by members of parliaments from all around the globe. It was the second Parliamentary Champions Forum, an initiative of the IDF which involves 155 MPs across 42 countries.
Throughout the three days, we heard about the global diabetes situation. The numbers are terrifying; it is overwhelming. As I sat there, I realised the numbers stopped meaning anything to me. Hearing statistics of the millions of people affected, the billions of dollars being spent just washed over me. I stopped gasping involuntarily when I heard the numbers of people diagnosed with diabetes-related reacting to what I heard.
But I was jolted back to reality when the individual country reports started. Because suddenly, it stopped being about numbers and it became about individuals. Thankfully, this was repeated throughout the three day Forum.
At the welcome dinner on the first night, the inspirational Dr Susan Alberti from Australia spoke about her personal story. On the second day, over lunch, we heard the stories of some of the IDF Young Leaders in Diabetes. We heard stories of discrimination and stigma and lack of access to necessary medication and healthcare. We heard about how diabetes impacts individuals mental health and affects their wellbeing.
And this is why we need to bring politicians and MPs into the diabetes discussion. Of course we need policy change. Of course we need our elected officials to understand the magnitude of diabetes.
But equally, we need them to understand how it affects individuals. We need them to hear about day-to-day life with diabetes and how their decisions to cut healthcare spending, or not fund medications and technology actually make a difference – a significant difference – to how well we live.
I live tweeted throughout the Forum. Catch up at #IDFPDGN