Diabetes associations have always used traditional methods of communication, such as newsletters and magazines. But increasingly, diabetes associations are turning to the new information technology to reach not only their members but also a wider worldwide audience.
Information Technology goes WWW.
You probably can't read the Web sites of all the IDF member associations. It's not that there are so many of them. Of the 164 member associations just 37 of them have 38 sites.
The problem is that almost nobody knows all 15 languages that these sites use. Like the Web generally, English is predominant with 12 sites in that language plus one bilingual French-English site, the Association Diabète Québec at www.adaxces.com/diabetequebec. The South African Diabetes Association has two sites in English.
Another 25 sites are in everything from Arabic to Swedish. Five sites in Spanish make it the language with the second most Web sites. Three sites each are in Dutch and Italian. Two sites each are in German, Portuguese, and Swedish. Arabic, Danish, French, Finnish, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Korean, and Japanese each have one site in that language. Five of these sites have at least one of their pages in English.
The 38 sites vary from a single page to thousands. In content they vary just as much. Many but not all sites give contact information, a calendar of coming events, branch locations, and diabetes facts and figures.
Of the IDF's seven regions, Europe has both the most associations and Web sites. In fact, 20 of the 38 member sites are in Europe. But association Web sites represent every region except South East Asia.
My favorite site to look at is Vlaamse Diabetes Vereniging at www.diabetes-vdv.be, a Dutch-language site in Belgium. It's so attractive and lively that I wish I could read the language.
Several sites include forums or bulletin boards where members can exchange questions and answers. Two of the largest forums are on the sites of the Norges Diabetesforbund at www.dianet.no in Norway and the Svenska Diabetes Förbundet at www.diabetes.se in Sweden.
Diabetes UK—the new name for the British Diabetic Association—has a major site at http://www.diabetes.org.uk/. Of all its pages, the one I like the best is called "Diabetes Myths." The North American region has two of the world's top diabetes sites. The American Diabetes Association's site at www.diabetes.org is arguably the world's leading diabetes Web site for the depth and breadth of its information. It recorded more than 7 million user sessions last year.
The Canadian Diabetes Association's site at www.diabetes.ca has several areas I like very much. One section on the Banting House National Historic Site honors the birthplace of insulin and the doctor from London, Ontario, Canada, who discovered it.
This article appeared in Diabetes Voice, Bulletin of the International Diabetes Federation, December 2000, p. 50.
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