Hungary marks World Health Day with joint press conference on diabetes

Government of Hungary/Gergely Botar

On 7 April 2016, Hungary celebrated World Health Day by holding a press conference focused on this year's theme of diabetes. Dr Zoltan Onodi-Szucs, State Minister for Health, Dr Laszlo Barkai, President of the Hungarian Diabetes Association, and Dr Zsofia Pusztai, Head of the WHO Country Office for Hungary, were the featured speakers, and the press conference received wide media coverage.

The press conference opened with a video presentation about a patient living with type 2 diabetes. The video was prepared for the education of patients.

Dr Onodi-Szucs spoke about the Hungarian data on diabetes and he emphasized the importance of prevention and individual responsibility. He added that the Ministry of Health currently plans to reform primary health care and that the strengthening of primary care would effectively contribute to earlier detection of diabetes. He also said that patients will be able to live well when they follow their treatment plans.

Dr Pusztai spoke about global and European trends in diabetes, as well as the impact of certain recent national interventions to reduce risk factors. She also summarized key WHO recommendations to stop the rise in diabetes prevalence, pointing to the fact that type 2 diabetes can be largely avoided by changes to lifestyle. She further emphasized the need to tackle diabetes as a package of actions to address noncommunicable diseases, with broad stakeholder involvement through whole-of-government approaches.

According to Dr Barkai, the estimated number of people living with diabetes in Hungary is 700 000–800 000, but at least the same amount of people have the disease without knowing it. Dr Barkai stressed that primary care screening tests are effective for early detection of the disease. This is important, as early detection can help prevent serious complications of untreated diabetes, such as blindness, limb amputation and kidney failure, all of which create a heavy burden on patients.  

The WHO Country Office for Hungary also sent out a press release on World Health Day, and translated and disseminated the World Health Day poster and diabetes fact sheet. Following World Health Day, several nongovernmental organizations expressed their interest in joining the campaign throughout the whole year, in partnership with the Hungarian Diabetes Association.