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Strengthened effort targeted diabetes and other lifestyle-related diseases in Greenland

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.

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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 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.

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.

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 and it 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 Steno Diabetes Center Greenland 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.

In 2020, the Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded a grant of DKK 382 million to support this initiative over a 10-year period. The grant follows in the footsteps of the Foundation awarding DKK 7.4 billion in 2016 for establishing Steno Diabetes Centers in all five administrative regions of Denmark.

In 2016, the Foundation awarded DKK 3 billion for establishing Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen in the Capital Region of Denmark, and in 2017 the Foundation awarded DKK 1.4 billion for establishing Steno Diabetes Center Aarhus in the Central Denmark Region; DKK 1.4 billion for establishing Steno Diabetes Center Odense in the Region of Southern Denmark; and DKK 0.8 billion for establishing Steno Diabetes Center North Jutland. Finally, in 2018, the Foundation approved a grant of DKK 0.8 billion for establishing Steno Diabetes Center Zealand in Region Zealand.