Novo Nordisk announces launch of new partnership programme to fight urban diabetes challenge

Novo Nordisk today announces the launch of ‘Cities Changing Diabetes’, an ambitious new partnership programme to fight the urban diabetes challenge. The ‘Cities Changing Diabetes’ programme will first be launched in Mexico City with other cities in North America, Europe and Asia soon to follow.

“The global diabetes epidemic is an emergency in slow motion," says Lars Rebien Sørensen, chief executive officer, Novo Nordisk. "While there are many factors fuelling the growth trajectory of diabetes, the most striking contributor is urbanisation and the growth of cities. The ‘Cities Changing Diabetes’ programme is our call to arms for people around the world to work together to fix this for the long-term." 

The aim of the programme is to map the problem, share solutions and drive concrete action to fight the diabetes challenge in the big cities around the world. The programme will be developed in partnership with University College London (UCL) and supported by Steno Diabetes Center, Denmark, a world-leading institution in diabetes care and prevention, as well as a range of local partners including healthcare professionals, city authorities, urban planners, businesses, academics and community leaders, amongst others.

During 2014, the partners will work together to better understand the diabetes challenge in cities in order to identify the actions needed to tackle it. Following the initial discovery phase, Novo Nordisk and its partners, with the help of policymakers, health authorities, the private sector and the volunteer sector, will announce action plans for each of the cities that will be part of the programme.

Two out of three with diabetes live in cities

The rise of diabetes is one of the world’s most serious health challenges with statistics getting worse every year. By 2030, it is estimated that more than half a billion people will suffer from diabetes. Today, nearly two thirds of everyone with diabetes live in cities, and those who move to cities are significantly more likely to develop diabetes than those who remain in rural settings.

For the first time in human history, more people live in cities than rural areas. It’s 52% today – and by 2050, that figure will have risen to 70% of the global population.2 From rising wealth and increasing consumption, to more sedentary lifestyles and inequality of access to healthcare, urban living presents a major challenge to health and has become one of the key drivers behind the acceleration of global diabetes. 

Mexico City first to join

Mexico City will be the first global city to join the ‘Cities Changing Diabetes’ programme. With a population of 20 million, Mexico City is today one of the largest metropolitan areas in the western world. 

Dr Armando Ahued Ortega, Minister of Health in Mexico City, says, “Diabetes is the main health priority of my administration. While we have implemented significant initiatives to battle obesity and diabetes and have seen some successes, diabetes remains an enormous burden for health services in the city. I look forward to seeing the results of the research phase so a holistic response to tackle this public health emergency can be taken. I am proud that Mexico City will be at the forefront of fighting diabetes.”

The launch event for the ‘Cities Changing Diabetes’ programme will take place today in Mexico City at Museo Interactivo de Economía (MIDE), a previous hospital for terminally-ill people, at 10.00 am CST.

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