Leicester professor leads major European diabetes research study

A Leicester professor says there are around 58 million people currently living with diabetes across Europe and 36 million more who are at risk of developing the condition.

Professor Kamlesh Khunti (pictured), co-director of the Leicester Diabetes Centre (LDC), led a European study, involving 38 countries in a bid to find out how and why healthcare systems are failing to control the prevalence of diabetes.

The findings also revealed that every year 477,000 people die of diabetes-related complications and treating the condition costs European health services €143 billion annually.

The research was launched because the European arm of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) wanted to further understand the challenges diabetes still continues to pose across the continent.

Professor Khunti, who is also Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “This report has demonstrated there are substantial European-wide challenges in the implementation of evidence-based practice for healthcare systems, healthcare professionals and people living with diabetes.

“We found only 22 (58 per cent) IDF European countries have been implementing national diabetes programmes and only 15 countries (39 per cent) have national diabetes registers, despite urgent recommendations being in place since the 90s.

“As part of our findings, we have published a series of recommendations which we believe are essential to follow if we are to succeed in our global fight for the prevention of Type 2 diabetes.”

The report, entitled ‘Integrating Diabetes Evidence into Practice: Challenges and Opportunities to Bridge the Gaps’, has stated the implementation of diabetes evidence should be tailored to local circumstances and prioritisation should be given to the education of healthcare professionals and persons living with diabetes to maximise the impact of government investment.

Professor Sehnaz Karadeniz, Regional Chair of IDF Europe, said: “Whether it is at the international or national level, at the level of healthcare systems, healthcare professionals or patients, gaps to ensure better management of diabetes are everywhere.

“Our intent was to clearly identify and understand these barriers at all levels. For example, we wanted to understand why diabetes is still not a priority in many countries, why recommended care models are not adopted and why adherence to therapy is still too low.”

Dr Niti Pall, the Chair-Elect of IDF Europe, added: “Based on this research, we can identify interventions which should be implemented at the micro and macro level to ensure better care for diabetes. It is time to propose solutions that hold the person with diabetes at the centre to address the diabetes burden and improve the quality of life.”

IDF Europe is an inclusive and multicultural umbrella organisation of 70 national diabetes associations in 47 countries across the European region, representing people living with diabetes and healthcare professionals.

It is the aim of the organisation to influence policy, increase public awareness and encourage health improvement, as well as promote the exchange of best practice and high-quality information about diabetes throughout the European region.

The report’s findings were unveiled at the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) congress, which took place earlier this month in Abu Dhabi across four days.

The annual event brought together world-renowned experts, healthcare professionals and speakers from within the field of diabetes.

During the conference Professor Khunti was also recognised for his services to diabetes and the LDC was named an International Centre of Excellence and an International Centre of Education.

Based at Leicester General Hospital, LDC is a partnership between Leicester’s Hospitals and the University of Leicester and is now ranked as Europe’s largest diabetes research facility.