Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been named ‘global ambassador for diabetes’ by the International Diabetes Federation at the World Diabetes Congress 2022 in Portugal.
Tarik Ahsan, Bangladesh ambassador to Portugal, received the certificate on behalf of Hasina from IDF President-Elect Akhtar Hussain.
The opening ceremony in Lisbon was attended by outgoing IDF President Andrew Boulton, other office bearers and congress participants. The participants included doctors, health professionals and medical personnel, many of whom were from Bangladesh. Officials of the Bangladesh embassy as well as leaders, journalists and members of the expatriate Bangladesh community of Portugal also attended the event.
The honorary title of global ambassador is bestowed upon an individual in recognition of their contribution to improving the lives of people living with diabetes. The individual is expected to be the voice of those living with diabetes worldwide for two years. Hasina is the first to receive the title.
Tarik Ahsan said that Hasina is a champion of people-centric development. Under her leadership, Bangladesh has become a role model for developing countries by achieving impressive socio-economic development through human development of the population, particularly in the areas of health, education and women empowerment, he added.
The health sector has always received special attention from Hasina. Tarik credited the establishment of innovative community clinics across Bangladesh as the brainchild of Hasina. He praised her 'prudent leadership' in the successful navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic and referred to her numerous international awards and recognitions in the health sector, including the MDG award, South-South award and Vaccine Hero award.
In a video message, Hasina thanked the IDF for the honour and expressed her regret at not being able to attend the event in person.
In Bangladesh, more than 8.5 million people, including children, live with diabetes and related co-morbidities, while the number is around 422 million worldwide, she said.
Emphasising the importance of changing dietary habits and raising public awareness, Hasina said that Bangladesh is giving due importance to diabetes prevention and control through community awareness and implementation of the pro-people health policy.
Bangladesh offers free treatment to diabetes patients in public sector hospitals and has started offering insulin for free as well. More than 18,000 community clinics and union health centres across the country are equipped with trained professionals and diabetes testing facilities.
Recognising non-communicable diseases like diabetes as a major challenge for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Hasina underscored the need of mobilising international political will to invest in diabetes prevention, treatment and research. She expressed her commitment to do her part as the global ambassador to bring the matter to the attention of world leaders.
Hasina also advocated for world peace in her speech. “On behalf of all diabetes patients and caregivers, I call upon the world leaders to bring an immediate end to the war in Ukraine. We must stop the international arms race and use the much-needed resources for our peoples’ health and education.”