This year, we focus on the challenge of diabetes among children and adolescents. Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood, and both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can strike children at any age. The disease is often diagnosed late or misdiagnosed as something else, such as the flu. We must do more to inform children and adults about the warning signs of the disease, particularly in the developing world.

I thank the International Diabetes Federation and the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh for co–sponsoring today's panel discussion on diabetes. As it happens, I recently returned from Bangladesh, where I received a wonderfully warm welcome from the Bangladeshi authorities and people. The country's involvement in this observance of World Diabetes Day is yet another sign of its strong commitment to the United Nations.

This year, we focus on the challenge of diabetes among children and adolescents. Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood, and both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can strike children at any age. The disease is often diagnosed late or misdiagnosed as something else, such as the flu. We must do more to inform children and adults about the warning signs of the disease, particularly in the developing world. We must also ensure access to proper medical care. Many children in the developing world die from diabetes because they do not have insulin.

According to the World Health Organization, more than one million people died from the disease in 2005, almost 80 per cent of them in low and middle–income countries. WHO projects that without urgent action, deaths from diabetes will increase by more than 50 per cent in the next 10 years. And by 2030, the number of people worldwide with diabetes – currently more than 180 million — is likely to double.

On World Diabetes Day, more than 800 buildings and landmark sites around the world are lighting blue circles as an expression of commitment to fight diabetes. Let us each do our part to shine a light on the impact of this deadly disease, and to light the way toward improved health services and care.

New York, 14 November 2008