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From a container clinic in Tanzania to 584 partnerships in 119 countries, we have grown to become a leading global funder of diabetes prevention and care projects in low- and middle-income countries.

Since 2002, we and our partners have worked to change the course of the disease. Join us in celebrating 20 years of improving lives together.

These are some of our most defining moments  


Raising awareness and supporting the first projects


Increasing reach and impact across the globe


Establishing strong partnerships & networks


Advocating as a global health leader

Let's revisit WDF’s journey


The WDF board and secretariat 
– recognising the enormity of the challenge – seek to place diabetes firmly on the global agenda.

They gather information, gain experience, and begin supporting the first projects.

1st phase

A foundation is born

Former Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Rebien Sørensen recalls the access to medicines debate – and the story before that story – that led to the creation of WDF.

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Temeke clinic, 2003

Step by Step, 2003

WDF initiates a programme to improve diabetic foot care, launching in India and Tanzania. Since then, the 'Step by Step' model has been widely applied in other countries.

A container donated by Maersk is transformed into a diabetes clinic in Temeke, Tanzania. The successful pilot paves the way for similar clinics in the Philippines, Cambodia, and elsewhere.


Regional summits set the global diabetes agenda

The WDF supports regional gatherings exploring the growing diabetes threat, and ways to address it.


WDF Patron HRH Princess Benedikte, India, 2004

Cambodia fundraiser, 2007

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The first WDF-supported project on diabetic retinopathy is initiated in Tamil Nadu, India. The project aims to strengthen the awareness of diabetes complications and improve diabetic eye care.

School health programme, India, 2007

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 A new fundraising programme begins, allowing donors to directly support pilots and small-scale projects.

The first WDF-supported school health promotion project begins in India. The students learn about diabetes and healthy lifestyles, and act as ambassadors by sharing their knowledge.

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Diabetes Action Now, 2004

Global Diabetes Walk, India, 2009


WDF launches the Global Diabetes Walk campaign in support of World Diabetes Day. It becomes an annual event, reaching the 1 million participant milestone in 2017.

WDF supports Diabetes Action Now, the IDF Diabetes Atlas and other diabetes awareness raising efforts. UN Resolution 61/225 establishing World Diabetes Day is a key outcome. 



WDF expands to new focus areas, its portfolio of projects grows, and strong long-term partnerships are established.

2nd phase

Women’s health is a nation’s wealth

Drs Anil Kapur and Hema Divakar discuss their long-term partnership to put gestational diabetes on the global agenda.

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Child with type 1 diabetes, 2012

Expert Meeting on Indigenous People, 2012

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WDF supports projects targeting indigenous populations and with IDF co-hosts the first Expert Meeting on Indigenous Peoples, Diabetes and Development. Other advocacy efforts follow.

WDF initiates its own projects focused on type 1 diabetes, and also supports initiatives led by Novo Nordisk to provide care for this highly vulnerable population.


Town-by-town: diabetes screening in Kenya

WDF's partners are rooted in local communities globally. Screening and awareness are crucial to turn the tide on the rising prevalence of diabetes.

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Woman in healthy pregnancy project, Colombia, 2013

WDF supports healthy pregnancy projects and partners with the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) and others to raise awareness about hyperglycaemia in pregnancy. 


TB-Diabetes film 'The Perfect Storm', 2015-16

WDF supports TB-diabetes projects and joins advocacy efforts led by WHO and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. A collaborative framework for care, practical guidance for health workers, a call to action and a film are produced.

Phase 3

The planted seeds begin to bear fruit and the results of WDF projects are increasingly evident. The WDF embraces its role as an agent of change.

Stepping into the gap, together

Kenya’s National Diabetes Strategy opened up space for more awareness and patient empowerment. Hanne Strandgaard and Reuben Magako discuss what happened next.

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Kenyan minister at diabetes screening, 2016


Refugee child, 2017

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WDF increases its work with refugees and internally displaced populations. Learnings from WDF's long-term partnership with UNRWA to prevent and treat diabetes among Palestinian refugees are key.

With WDF support, Kenya is the first African country to finalise the first phase of a national diabetes programme. WDF helps Tanzania, Malawi, Mali, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Palestine, Argentina and others launch national diabetes and NCD programmes.