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Cities Changing Diabetes expands partnership into Canada

By Sophie Vinter, on 15 November 2016

A UCL programme working with diverse partners to tackle the rise in urban diabetes expanded its reach into Canada on World Diabetes Day.

Cities Changing Diabetes is a unique global partnership for cross-disciplinary, cross-sector collaboration, led by Professor of Medical Anthropology David Napier (UCL Department of Anthropology), healthcare company Novo Nordisk and the Steno Diabetes Center – a world-leading institution in diabetes care and prevention.

On 14 November the Vancouver initiative joined existing setups in Mexico City, Copenhagen, Houston, Tianjin, Shanghai and Johannesburg, all following the same programme of mapping the problem, sharing the learnings and then taking action.

Professor Napier is the global academic lead on the ground-breaking project, which was facilitated by UCL Consultants.

Vancouver is Canada’s third largest city and according to a recent analysis, almost 10% of the population are living with diabetes, with one in four yet to be diagnosed.

Prevalence has been shown to differ greatly between different neighbourhoods of the city, underlining the need for a coordinated, multi-agency response in tackling the issue.

Professor Napier collaborates with a team of 75 fieldworkers as well as senior research staff in each country to gather data on the ground about diabetes epidemiology in urban environments.

He said: “We are delighted to bring our expertise to bear through supporting research that underpins Cities Changing Diabetes. We are gathering data across the globe, setting a baseline to the challenge of diabetes, and acting as a platform for future action.

“What’s more, this programme is unique because it goes into the field to gain real – not laboratory or experimental – insight, via real people, living real lives. Yes, all those involved have different cultures, different research foci, and different needs and priorities in our research. Yet we have all come together to do something really new in the academic world.”

Rick Blickstead, President and CEO of programme partner The Canadian Diabetes Association, added: “The problem of urban diabetes cannot be solved alone – the issue is far too complex. We must break down silos and engage in innovative collaboration across sectors – government, healthcare, education and advocacy – to create meaningful change. Cities Changing Diabetes presents a unique opportunity for cross-sector collaboration that will help us defeat this disease.”

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