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IDF and Lions Club International sign MOU at the United Nations

On Saturday, March 24, 2018, Lions Clubs International (LCI) and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), on the occasion of Lions Day at the UN, to establish a cooperative alliance in the global fight against diabetes. The two organizations came together to help prevent diabetes and improve the quality of life for those living with diabetes worldwide.

LCI is the world’s largest service club organization, with 48,000 clubs and over 1.4 million members serving in 200 countries or geographic areas. LCI’s 40th annual Lions Day with the United Nations commemorated their long-standing relationship as a consultative NGO to the United Nations (UN) which began in 1945. The theme for the event “Working Together Globally to Combat Diabetes” was attended by Lions members, Leos—young leaders of the Lions community, UN diplomats, and dignitaries. On behalf of LCI, Naresh Aggarwal, LCI President, was in attendance for the IDF-LCI MoU ceremony, alongside IDF President Nam H. Cho on behalf of IDF.

This partnership between LCI and IDF is not just an MoU we are signing today, but a MoR, a Memorandum of Revolution.

IDF, representing over 230 national diabetes associations in 170 countries and territories, has been leading the global diabetes community since 1950. The Federation is engaged in action to tackle diabetes from the local to the global level ― from programs at the community level to worldwide awareness and advocacy initiatives. IDF’s activities influence policy, increase public awareness and encourage health improvement, promote the exchange of high-quality information about diabetes, and provide education for people with diabetes and their healthcare providers.

LCI and IDF are well positioned to form the two-year MoU partnership, strengthening advocacy efforts so desperately needed to combat the diabetes epidemic worldwide.

According to LCI President, Naresh Aggarwal, “Lions are uniquely qualified to take on the challenge and growing epidemic of diabetes. With over 1.4 million members and 48,000 clubs around the world, we will mobilize resources. Lions can make an impact by helping to increase public awareness, screening for diabetes, and providing one-on-one peer counselling to young people, in addition to working with partner organizations.

The signing of the MoU fortifies a partnership that will operate at the national, regional and global level. The two organizations agree to cooperate in good faith to achieve common goals:

  • Prevent diabetes and improve the quality of life for those diagnosed.
  • Raise diabetes awareness and provide education where it is needed.
  • Develop of holistic diabetes-service projects to improve care.
  • Elevate the issue of diabetes onto the national and global political agenda.
  • Increase access to diabetes care, medication, and diagnostic equipment.

When President Aggarwal arrived at the podium for the Lions Day UN address, he began by declaring how he himself lives with type 2 diabetes and gently asked audience members to stand if they lived with diabetes, or had a family member with diabetes, and finally asked those who knew a colleague or friend with diabetes. By the end of President Aggarwal’s query, more than three-quarters of the UN General Assembly Hall, filled nearly to capacity, was standing.

This partnership between LCI and IDF is not just an MoU we are signing today, but a MoR, a Memorandum of Revolution – a Revolution to act and to come together as partners to combat diabetes globally, nationally and locally,” declared Mr. Aggarwal, whereupon the audience gave a standing ovation.

IDF President Nam H. Cho, thanking President Aggarwal and those in the audience, spoke directly about the worldwide diabetes crisis today and the urgent need for stronger advocacy.

This is a timely and welcome partnership. Lions Clubs International is a dynamic movement with a vast and influential network. It has an impressive track record in bringing about positive change and health improvement. Our organizations are ideally placed to collaborate and make a difference for the many millions now living with diabetes and all those at risk. If we do not act to address the diabetes pandemic, 629 million adults will have diabetes in 2045 and a further 532 million adults will be at high risk. This will mean more people dying from diabetes and its complications and increasing pressure on the delivery of healthcare services. Here in the US, one-third of all people with diabetes are undiagnosed. Together, this is where we can make a difference.

IDF and LCI aim to achieve the objectives of the partnership through joint programming, capacity development, campaigning, advocacy, research, and data and knowledge management. The coming months will see the start of implementation activities, leveraging the strengths of the two networks.

Our organizations are ideally placed to collaborate and make a difference for the many millions now living with diabetes and all those at risk.


Elizabeth Snouffer is Editor of Diabetes Voice

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