Speaking of World Diabetes Day, coming up November 14, I discovered this cool series of YouTube videos that the International Diabetes Federation has been pumping out to catch people's attention. They're short and evocative, all supporting the slogan "Understand Diabetes, Get Involved."
For example, this bit on "how many people have diabetes worldwide?" Do you know the number? I didn't offhand, either:
Or this one, reminding folks to never let neuropathy sneak up on them (as Dr. Steven Edelman reminded us here recently):
Or this one — by far my favorite — entitled "Blue Circle = diabetes symbol." How many of your friends and family are aware that diabetes is even trying to have a universally recognized symbol of awareness?
The blue circle lapel pins, btw, seem to STILL be only available for purchase at the IDF's online shop — in the format of a 10-pack priced in Euros (â‚¬30.25). This sucks, with World Diabetes Day just 2-1/2 months away.
So frustrating! Why is it that we can't buy these pins anywhere in the United States? At the very least, you'd think you could order them directly from the JDRF and the ADA...? It seems crazy to me that these US organizations are so far removed from the great work IDF is doing to raise global awareness of our illness.
It was Christopher Thomas, founder of the NY-based DiabeticRockstar community who brought this point home at this summer's Diabetes Social Media Summit: we need to unite under one symbol if we want the public to recognize and care about diabetes as a cause. "The ADA site is what, red, like blood? — while the JDRF is blue, but doesn't promote blue circle either," he pointed out.
Even among patients who are active online, I've seen folks puzzling about the awareness symbol, and whether our main color is red or gray: "The most common color I found for diabetes awareness ribbons when I Googled it was gray."
I personally hate that gray ribbon with the blood droplet. Yuck. Those colors say nothing but gloom and blood, to me.
And here's the rub: Even on the web site of the American Diabetes Association (by far the most-visited diabetes site in the country) a searches for the terms "awareness pin," "global symbol," and "blue circle" produce ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
When I search there for "World Diabetes Day," all I get is the link to two nearly identical press releases from 2008 and 2009, stating that "The American Diabetes Association Supports the Worldwide Global Efforts Surrounding World Diabetes Day" — and then going on to toot its own horn about work that the non-profit ADA does here in the US. Nada on IDF or the blue circle.
I ran the same searches over at the JDRF web site, and came up with just two items: a 2006 statement recognizing the 2006 UN Resolution issued that year, and one brief announcement about World Diabetes Day from three years ago.
What is going on here? Why aren't these advocacy organizations better aligned? I think it's good that they're calling upon us patients to understand our illness, and get involved. At the same time, I think we should call upon them to "understand us patients, and get united in your efforts!"