World Diabetes Day created in 1991 by the International Diabetes
Federation (IDF) is celebrated on November 14. It engages over 350
million people from all over the world every year.
There are over 3.5 million diabetic patients officially registered in
Russia. However, epidemiological studies show the number is closer to 8
million. According to the World Health Organization, Russia is among the
top five countries as regards prevalence of diabetes. The need to
develop effective national policies on prevention, early detection and
adequate treatment of diabetes, and to build domestic production of
essential medicines is urgent.
The St. Petersburg Diabetes Association celebrates the World Diabetes
Day every November. This year, each administrative district of St.
Petersburg hosted meetings of patients, doctors, representatives of the
government, and members of municipal councils, where various issues
related to the medical and social protection of diabetic patients were
The central event of the Living with Diabetes Days in St. Petersburg
was an event held on November 12–15 in Oktyabrsky Concert Hall. The
event was designed to boost diabetes and diabetes prevention awareness
among the people. Apart from receiving information materials, the guests
could see a unique photo exhibition “Portraits of Diabetes” dedicated
to diabetic patients who, despite the disease, live an active,
fulfilling, and vibrant life, and to get acquainted with the winners of
the international contest “Diabetes: Pictures of My Active Life” the
Russian pharmaceutical company GEROPHARM held last fall.
The culmination of the Living with Diabetes days in St. Petersburg was
the official event “Living with Diabetes: Active and Healthy Lifestyle”
held on November 14 in the Oktyabrsky Concert Hall. The event gave
diabetic patients, patient organizations, and journalists an opportunity
to discuss sore issues with representatives of the government and to
interact with the characters and the author of the photo project
“Portraits of Diabetes”.
“The “Portraits of Diabetes” is a photo project that breathes and
emanates a gamut of colourful emotions and feelings. The authors of the
project were able to convey the spirit and the light of the soul from
portraits to people,” Marina G. Shipulina, Chairman of the St.
Petersburg Diabetes Association, said while addressing the guests of the
“...I am sure that the “Portraits of Diabetes” project we are
presenting today will help us look at the problem from a new angle.
People of different age groups with different backgrounds, for whom
diabetes has become a way of life, look at us from the pictures.
Photographer V. Plotnikov was able to show that their lives are not
devoid of vividness. Diabetic patients live active lives that are
fulfilling in every aspect. The “Portraits of Diabetes” is about real
lives of real people. Their lives cannot but make us feel compassion for
them – this is what the photographer’s great skill does,” Ms. Shipulina
quoted a letter from L.A. Kostkina.
“We appreciate it that people from all over Russia and even from other
countries have welcomed the project and sent us their pictures and
stories,” Ekaterina Artemyeva, the head of GEROPHARM’s PR Department,
said. “By involving more and more people in the activities designed, on
the one hand, to educate people and to prevent spreading of the disease
and, on the other hand, to support and adapt diabetic patients to the
social environment, we can ensure that the joint efforts of the society,
patient organizations, and pharmaceutical companies will gradually
change the situation for the better. We are happy that the photo contest
has given all of us a chance to learn dozens of new stories of real
people who, despite their diagnosis, live a fulfilling, vibrant,
The “Portraits of Diabetes” photo project led by the GEROPHARM Group
is meant to draw the attention of all social strata and make people look
at the disease from a new angle. People of all ages and professions,
those whose life, despite the diagnosis, has not lost its vividness, joy
and simple human happiness, were invited to participate in the project.
The contrast between the dullness of the disease and the brightness of
life becomes especially striking when looking at the black-and-white
pictures of the characters. Valery Plotnikov, a renown Russian
photographer known for his deep and meaningful works, is the author if
the exhibition. Throughout its year’s life, the photo project has been
an effective tool of drawing the attention of the public to the problem
of diabetes. The photo project literally travelled between Russian
cities: it was presented during various events and unfailingly aroused
the public’s deep interest. The portraits of the characters of the
project, including an 8-year-old girl, students, and adults of different
professions: doctors, teachers, artists, and others, remind everyone
that everything that is done to fight the disease is ultimately designed
to improve the quality of people’s lives.
The international photo contest “Diabetes: Pictures of My Active Life”
was a logical continuation of the photo project’s story, which proposed
a new format of looking at living with diabetes. The theme of the photo
contest was the active lifestyle: sports, unusual hobbies, and
everything related to it. Several dozens contestants from all over
Russia and the CIS countries dove into contesting on the project’s
social media pages, encouraging their friends, acquaintances, and
relatives to vote for them. The contest did indeed bring people from all
over Russia and the CIS countries together. Many participants found new
friends and shared ideas for collaboration.
Attracting the attention of authorities, the medical community, the media, and the general public to the threat of a diabetes epidemic in Russia and to the severe social and economic consequences of the disease, as well as raising awareness of diabetes, is yet another step on the path to overcoming prejudice against the disease.