Live from the World Diabetes Congress!

Kate Gilbert and Melinda Seed write for Twice Diabetes, live from the World Diabetes Congress
Kate Gilbert and Melinda Seed write for Twice Diabetes, live from the World Diabetes Congress

This week, we’re both at the largest medical conference to ever occur in Australia: the World Diabetes Congress. More than 10,000 people are here from all over the world. Walking around hearing all the languages feels like a mini holiday without leaving Australia.

Our first impressions of this mega event… Good bits first:
>> Great free coffee from the drug companies in the trade display is always a winner.

>> Chocolate pancreases and needle-shaped pens at the Type 1 Diabetes Network stand! Clever!

>>Kate delved into a few of the super scientific sessions and especially ‘enjoyed’ one about whether we should test kids of Type 1 parents (aka her babies) for their risk of developing Type 1, and got a clear and comprehensive answer (short version = no; longer version to come on this blog asap) from guru in this field, Professor Carla Greenbaum.

>> We found a finger pricking device that doesn’t hurt!! It apparently uses some clever design thinking – quite simple really- there’s bumps on the bit you hold against your finger and your brain gets tricked by the bumpy feeling and doesn’t register the more painful prick that follows. We tried it – it works! It’s brilliant! Simple but brilliant!

>> We cheered when Anne Marie Felton, diabetes nurse educator who Chaired a session on Building Effective Relationships with Health Practitioners highlighted the conflict between being patient-centred and allowing patients to choose their own goals vs the Quality Outcomes Framework that financially rewards doctors for patients’ biochemical outcomes.

A few lowlights:

>> Much more use of the term ‘compliance’ and ‘control’ and ‘cheating’ than should be occurring in 2013. Disappointing.

>> Consumers being locked out of the trade displays. Sure there are strict laws preventing drug companies promoting directly to consumers, but they should have found a way without having bouncers on the door prohibiting entry to those with pink badges. Barring them from the poster session too, what was that about? Bad form.

>> Having to queue for a brown bag lunch which was scrutinised on the way out to ensure that you hadn’t taken more than your rationed amount (seriously somebody took a juice and a water and they had to return the “extra” drink).

This conference is truly international with people from all over the world. Discussions are ranging from how to get insulin to kids in African countries where Type 1 is a death sentence… and next door, it’s how to get doctors to stop fearing social media, and next door to that….. a dating service in India, where Type 1 women can be socially ostracised and therefore not able to marry, so a clever soul is working on introducing them to Type 1 men, who are a little more understanding.

Talking of India, we enjoyed this advertising banner at the conference for a biscuit that “manages your blood sugar levels” – how fabulous! That ‘interesting’ claim, topped only by the biscuit’s tagline of ‘C’mon diabetes, let’s be friends!’!

We’ve decided, rather than a blow-by-blow rundown of the conference (we did that on Twitter if you’re into that sort of thing) we’ll work on it over the next month or so to bring you info on stuff from the conference that was new and interesting and might actually make a difference to life with Type 1 – there wasnt a huge amount unfortunately, but there were a few stand-outs like, the artificial pancreas session which we’ll write up all the details on very soon.

Signing out from WDC Melbourne! Kate and Mel

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