SWEET: New European Diabetes Initiative

April 9, 2008

Campaign to Improve Treatment of Children With Diabetes Each year, more and more children and adolescents all over the world are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The overall annual increase is estimated at around 3%.[1] However, even in countries with highly developed health care systems, the care received by young people with diabetes is not always optimal. This is what SWEET intends to change: SWEET is the first project aimed at improving the diagnosis and care of children and adolescents with diabetes in Europe in order to prevent costly and debilitating secondary disorders. The initiative, which is subsidised by the EU, was kick-started on April 9th in Bad Homburg, Germany.

"Diabetes is different for children than for adults," explains Dr. Thomas Danne, director of the SWEET project, General Secretary of the ISPAD (International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes), and Director of the Diabetes Centre for Children and Adolescents in Hanover, Germany. "The motor activity of children, for instance, is entirely different. They sleep longer, their eating habits are not predictable, and they tend to catch cold easier." Taking these behaviours into account requires particularly flexible treatment strategies and the assistance of the entire family as well as the child's teachers. "To make sure that everyone involved is able to help, we need specific group-based training programs," states Dr. Danne. He finds it equally important to ensure that all children and adolescents with diabetes can be cared for in specialized treatment centres for diabetic children, where a multidisciplinary team is able to respond to the metabolic challenges experienced by the young patients as they grow up. "Even in countries with well-developed health care systems many children are not treated by teams experienced in paediatric diabetes," explains Dr. Danne. He hopes that SWEET will eliminate this problem.

SWEET - for better quality of care for young patients

SWEET is an acronym standing for "Better control in paediatric and adolescent diabetes: working to create Centres of Reference" and is based on a partnership of established national and European diabetes organisations. Led by the ISPAD, the goal is to develop joint recommendations with regard to the treatment strategies and standards for paediatric diabetology as well as training programs for both diabetes experts and patients over the next three years at 10 paediatric centres that already specialize in the treatment of diabetes. Furthermore, SWEET plans to promote the establishment of additional reference centres. The participating countries are Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Romania, Poland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic.

Additional partners of the networking initiative are the European branch of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the Federation of European Nurses in Diabetes (FEND), and Primary Care Diabetes Europe (PCDE). Cooperation between the reference centres will be set up such that it will extend well beyond the three-year term of the SWEET networking project.

SWEET needs support

The SWEET project has received a total of EUR 360,000 from the Public Health Agency of the European Union as part of the health information programme. However, much more will be needed to implement all project objectives. As director of the project, Dr. Danne hopes to inspire additional support for this forward-looking concept. This would contribute toward enabling more children and adolescents with diabetes to receive adequate medical care and be treated by experienced teams.

Media Contact:

IDF Europe

Kerrita McClaughlyn

Phone: +32 2 543 1639

e-Mail: media@idf.orfg

[1] Diabetes Atlas third edition, International Diabetes Federation, 2006.