Cities Changing Diabetes

Cities Changing Diabetes is an innovative stakeholder engagement programme, aiming to identify and address the root causes of the rise of type 2 diabetes in urban areas.

Summary  

  • What: Novo Nordisk developed Cities Changing Diabetes to identify and address the root causes of the rise of type 2 diabetes in urban areas and to facilitate the implementation of integrated and sustainable solutions to this challenge.
  • Objective: Among its objectives, the programme aims to create new models for collaboration; form peer-to-peer community networks; and make health a priority in urban planning.
  • Details: The programme has been developed in partnership with University College London (UCL) and Steno Diabetes Center.
  • Scope: The programme targets diabetes in 6 cities: Mexico City, Copenhagen, Houston, Tianjin, Shanghai and Johannesburg.

Looking closer

In 2014, Novo Nordisk, UCL, and Steno Diabetes Center launched the Cities Changing Diabetes programme: a cross-disciplinary and cross-sector partnership programme designed to identify and address the root causes of the rise of type 2 diabetes in urban areas as well as to facilitate the implementation of integrated and sustainable solutions to the challenge of diabetes in these areas.

The programme is currently active in six cities: Mexico City, Copenhagen, Houston, Tianjin, Shanghai and Johannesburg, soon to be followed by Vancouver. In each city, the Cities Changing Diabetes programme is built on public-private partnerships.

In 2015, the initial mapping phase resulted in the completion of the world’s largest study on urban diabetes, led by UCL in collaboration with leading researchers in the selected cities. This research found that vulnerability to diabetes in cities around the world is influenced far more than previously thought by social factors (e.g., financial, geographic, time and resource factors) and cultural determinants (e.g., traditional and conventional factors, common shared perception of health, illness and body size). These results have been shared and discussed with key stakeholders for this programme. This includes mayors, urban planners, ministers of health, academics, healthcare professionals and diabetes organisations.

Across the cities, the action phase has been implemented throughout 2015. Through town hall meetings, the partners have already engaged hundreds of stakeholders, including non-government organisations, faith-based groups, employers and health providers, to share local learnings and insights and to form action plans.

As the programme moves into concrete activities in each of the cities, Novo has identified several priorities:

1) Create new models for collaboration. This means forging new partnerships that engage all sectors and levels of the community: local government, businesses, schools, non-profits, healthcare, grass-roots organisations, and individuals. Novo Nordisk considers this critical to create policy change that promotes community-wide health and wellbeing.

2) Form peer-to-peer community networks. Since the most vulnerable populations to type 2 diabetes often lack access to the formal health care system, the company is trying to take an extra step, by implementing peer-to-peer networks. Novo Nordisk considers that these networks are able to play an important role in changing people’s ability to manage their own health and equipping them to live with diabetes.

3) Make health a priority in urban planning. When cities are planned, managed, and governed well, they can be engines of prosperity and greater personal wellbeing. But when this is not the case, inequalities, working patterns, lifestyles, and cultural norms that cities foster can magnify vulnerabilities to diabetes and other chronic conditions. Novo Nordisk aims at making leaders in health work more closely with those who design and manage cities, to ensure urban spaces are thoughtfully optimised for their citizens’ health.

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