Stéphane Besançon, a diabetes activist who shines from Africa

For many, the question of health in Africa refers above all to infectious diseases: malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis… Malnutrition, too. Stéphane Besançon, he has been working for twenty years to put on the agenda another health emergency in the countries of the South: diabetes. But how can people who don’t have enough to eat get diabetes? »we still often ask the biologist and nutritionist by training, director general of Santé Diabète, the non-governmental organization he founded in 2001, in Mali.

This chronic disease, which is characterized by hyperglycemia, is a well-known scourge in rich countries, faced with epidemics of overweight and sedentary lifestyle. Yet, of the 537 million diabetics living in the world (most with non-insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes), three-quarters are in low- and middle-income countries.

To improve their access to care and their quality of life, Stéphane Besançon is on all fronts, taking his fight to the highest level, where he has become a recognized interlocutor. On November 14, for World Diabetes Day, he participates in a World Health Organization (WHO) webinar. An instance he knows well. Since 2018, he has been part of a commission of twenty-seven members of civil society chosen by the UN organization to advise it. He was thus at the negotiating table which resulted, in 2021, in a WHO resolution to guarantee universal access to insulin, a treatment for type 1 diabetes. A historic commitment to the fight against this diseaserejoices Stéphane Besançon in the Parisian café where we met him, during a visit to France. Insulin is a life-saving drug for tens of millions of people, many without access to it, in low-income countries, but also in the United States, where the cost is the highest in the world. »

“He has the rare ability to start from the experience on the ground and translate it into a political vision, in the service of his objective: to help” – David Beran (University of Geneva)

Without Stéphane, we would probably not have obtained this resolution »salutes researcher David Beran (University of Geneva), who has been conducting research projects with him for almost twenty years. He is someone who has values ​​and who knows how to defend them at all levels. He has the rare ability to start from the experience on the ground and translate it into a political vision, in the service of his objective: to help. » Like a fish in water in all environments, including competitive or hostile, while remaining honest, underline his relatives.

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