A new ambitious initiative aims to ensure that people with diabetes and other lifestyle-related diseases can be offered research-based treatment and prevention of the highest quality regardless of where they live in Greenland.
The Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Government of Greenland have entered into a long-term collaboration to strengthen the prevention and treatment of diabetes and other selected lifestyle-related diseases in Greenland. The Foundation’s Board of Directors has approved a grant of DKK 382 million (€51 million) to the Government of Greenland to strengthen initiatives throughout Greenland over the next 10 years.
The vision of the initiative is to improve public health and the quality of life of every person in Greenland who has diabetes or other selected lifestyle-related diseases and to contribute to coherent treatment interventions.
The main initiative in the collaboration is establishing Steno Diabetes Center Greenland, which will be a national knowledge, development and outpatient treatment centre. Steno Diabetes Center Greenland will be an integrated part of Greenland’s healthcare system.
Commenting on the announcement, Martha Abelsen, Minister of Health, Social Affairs and Justice, says: “With this collaboration, I am certain that we have taken a big step towards improving health in Greenland. I hope and think that, together, we can reverse the trend so that fewer people develop diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and high blood pressure, which unfortunately afflict more and more of our people.”
Diseases growing rapidly
Similar to many other parts of the world, type 2 diabetes and other lifestyle-related diseases are rapidly increasing in Greenland. About 6,500 people in Greenland have diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or high blood pressure, and this figure is projected to increase by more than 40% to about 9,300 people by 2030. Many will have multiple illnesses and receive treatment for several diseases.
Lars Rebien Sørensen, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Novo Nordisk Foundation, says: “This new initiative creates a unique opportunity to provide a major boost to research, treatment, prevention and education related to diabetes and other lifestyle-related diseases in Greenland. Our ambition is that fewer people should develop these diseases and that those who have them should live longer and have a higher quality of life.”
A centre with nationwide tasks
Steno Diabetes Center Greenland will be the driving force behind new treatment opportunities and strengthening research. The initiatives have several goals.
- Treatment and patient education. The overall treatment initiatives and patient education will be strengthened throughout Greenland in close collaboration with the healthcare districts. Preventing complications for diabetes and providing coherent, individually tailored services for people with multiple diseases is key to this effort.
- Research. Existing research efforts and communities will be consolidated and further developed. The ambition is to develop an international and Arctic-based research and education community with close interaction between research and practice.
- Intersectoral collaboration and disease prevention. The centre will operate and develop projects that support strong interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaboration with, among others, the municipalities for preventing type 2 diabetes and other lifestyle-related diseases. A special focus area in this context will be prevention initiatives targeting overweight children.
Greenland’s geography and sometimes challenging weather require using telemedicine to ensure that everyone in the country has access to the initiatives the centre develops and offers. The centre will therefore strengthen and develop this telemedicine infrastructure.
Strengthening the treatment initiatives at the level of ambition described also requires initiatives targeting the structured development of the competencies of everyone involved. The centre will be a driving force behind strengthening the development of the competencies of healthcare personnel and developing projects and services targeting municipal employees.
The centre will consolidate and further develop the work and initiatives that are currently being managed by the Lifestyle Group in Nuuk and the outpatient lifestyle centres throughout the country and will collaborate closely with other healthcare actors.
Co-funding of Steno Diabetes Center Greenland
Steno Diabetes Center Greenland and its initiatives will be operated with resources from both the Government of Greenland and the Novo Nordisk Foundation. The Government of Greenland’s funding of existing services and activities within diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and high blood pressure will remain unchanged. The Foundation will fund new supplementary activities, new telemedicine equipment for health units throughout the country and the establishment of the new building in Nuuk from which the Center will operate. The grant runs from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2030, and the new building is expected to be ready for use in 2024. Until then, the centre will be housed in temporary accommodation in Nuuk.
The Foundation’s Board of Directors has awarded the grant based on a detailed project plan describing the areas of action and tasks that Steno Diabetes Center Greenland will realize over the next 10 years. On 5 March, the Government of Greenland approved the vision statement, which was prepared with the participation of employees from Greenland’s healthcare system, the University of Greenland, the municipalities and the Government of Greenland.
Read about Steno Diabetes Center Greenland here.
Steno Diabetes Centers in Denmark
This grant follows in the footsteps of the Foundation awarding DKK 7.4 billion (€990 million) since 2016 for establishing Steno Diabetes Centers in all five administrative regions of Denmark.
In 2016, the Foundation awarded DKK 3 billion (€400 million) for establishing Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen in the Capital Region of Denmark, and in 2017 the Foundation awarded DKK 1.4 billion (€188 million) for establishing Steno Diabetes Center Aarhus in the Central Denmark Region; DKK 1.4 billion (€188 million) for establishing Steno Diabetes Center Odense in the Region of Southern Denmark; and DKK 800 million (€107 million) for establishing Steno Diabetes Center North Denmark. Finally, in 2018, the Foundation approved a grant of DKK 800 million (€107 million) for establishing Steno Diabetes Center Zealand in Region Zealand.
Inger Heilmann Larsen, Personal Secretary, Ministry of Health, Government of Greenland, +299 554 160, email@example.com
Christian Mostrup, Senior Press Lead, Novo Nordisk Foundation, +45 3067 4805, firstname.lastname@example.org