The last day of April witnessed a key moment in Parliament as the issue of Government research funding for type 1 diabetes was debated.
The debate, which took place on Wednesday 30 April, had been secured by George Howarth, Labour MP for Knowsley, who has a strong personal connection with type 1 diabetes.
Mr Howarth spoke on a number of key issues around type 1 diabetes, such as the lack of understanding within the nation of the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the challenges of maintaining good blood glucose levels and the lack of integrated psychological support in type 1 diabetes care.
The eating disorder, diabulimia, was one of the key issues discussed in the debate. Members of Parliament were made aware of the high risk of death from ketoacidosis and other diabetes complications which can result from the disorder. Mr Howarth’s own daughter tragically died at just 24 as a result of type 1 diabetes.
After introducing the many difficulties associated with type 1 diabetes, Mr Howarth went on to discuss the importance of Government funding for type 1 diabetes research. Mr Howarth pointed out that, whilst there are significant long term financial incentives for pharmaceutical companies to fund research for type 2 diabetes, there is less incentive in developing products and treatments for type 1 diabetes, adding that Government funding in research for type 1 diabetes is therefore crucial.
Mr Howarth went on to speak about how insulin pump technology has helped to turn around the lives of people with diabetes with access to the technology, allowing them to live their lives with much more spontaneity than is possible on injections. He also spoke about the charity, JDRF’s work in raising funding for research to develop an artificial pancreas system.
A number of MPs congratulated Mr Howarth on raising the debate and added their own thoughts and experiences of type 1 diabetes from their constituents. JDRF’s #CountMeIn campaign, which calls for the UK Government to raise its research funding towards type 1 diabetes in line with spending by other nations, was also mentioned by Labour MP for Copeland, Jamie Reed. If the UK Government were to match the per capita spending on type 1 diabetes research of other nations, it would invest £12 million.
Dr Daniel Poulter, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health, pointed out that type 1 diabetes research funding had increased from £5.8 million in 2011-2012 to over £6.5 million in 2012-2013 and said that the “increased spending on research mean that we are moving to a better place with our support for people with type 1 diabetes”.

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