World Diabetes Day 2017

World Diabetes Day 2017

Meet inspiring women from across the world who have helped to make progress in diabetes care.

This World Diabetes Day, Ascensia Diabetes Care is proud to support the International Diabetes Federation’s official theme, Women and Diabetes.

One in ten women globally has diabetes. That is around 199 million women who are living today with diabetes and this number is projected to rise to 314 million by 20401.

We all know more than ten women and it is likely that one of them has diabetes. Whilst progress is being made, diabetes continues to be a critical global health issue for women. Today, the IDF is promoting the importance of affordable and equitable access for women with diabetes.

We have painted portraits of women who are helping to progress the management of diabetes. Watch our digital art campaign and spread the word on social media, to help us highlight just some of the inspiring women who have made a huge impact on the diabetes world.

Find out more about their stories below.

Cathy Van de Moortele

Type 1 diabetes, advocate and blogger. Belgium

Cathy Van de Moortele from Belgium has type 1 diabetes and was diagnosed 15 years ago. Aware of the lack of information and the need for coaching for people with diabetes, she started her own Belgian blog, Facebook page and Instagram accounts to share her experiences and create awareness. Her aim is to reach as many people with diabetes as possible. She is a mother of 2 daughters and works part time as a personal assistant to disabled people. 


Helen Free

Chemist and Inventor of the indicator to detect glucose in 1956. USA

Helen Free, from the USA is the sole inventor on US patent 2,912,309, “Indicator for Detecting Glucose”, the technology used to create the first “stick” product, Clinistix, in 1956. Helen worked for Miles and Bayer, both predecessors to Ascensia Diabetes Care. She served as President of both the American Chemical Society and the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. She was inducted into the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2000 and received the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2009.

Jen Hanson 

Type 1 diabetes, charity worker, advocate, educator, global ambassador. Canada

Jen, from Canada, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged 3, but has never let diabetes slow her down. She is the Executive Director of the health charity, Connected in Motion, who have been working to pioneer experiential diabetes education that uses outdoor adventure, sport and community. Jen is a Certified Diabetes Educator and has volunteered with multiple diabetes organizations across the world, including Children with Diabetes, the International Diabetes Federation’s Young Leaders program and as a Global Ambassador for Beyond Type 1. 

Melissa Holloway 

Type 1 diabetes, charity worker, advocate, writer, consultant. UK

Melissa is Chief Adviser with INPUT Patient Advocacy, the UK charity supporting patient access to diabetes technology. Originally from the US, Melissa was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged 12. She began her advocacy work in 2002 by starting a support network for students with diabetes at Oxford University. Now based in London, Melissa combines her INPUT role with volunteering for NHS diabetes initiatives and JDRF. Professionally, she works as a freelance medical copywriter and healthcare industry consultant.

Teresa Benbenek-Klupa

Type 1 diabetes, nurse, educator, Ascensia employee. Poland

Teresa is a nurse and educator in diabetes from Poland and has had type 1 diabetes for 38 years. She works for Ascensia Diabetes Care, helping to educate healthcare professionals and people with diabetes. Teresa has authored multiple professional scientific articles and chapters in textbooks about the management of type 1 diabetes. Teresa tries to use advanced technologies to help her follow her passions and overcome barriers related to diabetes. 

Sabine Moser

Type 1 diabetes, author, illustrator, dietician. Austria

Sabine, from Austria, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12. She trained as a diabetes-specialized dietician at the University Clinic in Innsbruck. Sabine wrote and illustrated the children's book "The Little Green Giraffe" and is working on an education program for children with diabetes in partnership with a team of healthcare professionals and Ascensia Diabetes Care. She believes that diabetes should not limit anyone and everything is possible with imagination!

Stella Yuen

Type 2 diabetes, advocate for patient information. Hong Kong

Stella, from Hong Kong, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2002. After her diagnosis, she was able to successfully change her diet and became more active, taking up Tai Chi Chuen. Stella feels that she is aware and knowledgeable about her diabetes and how to manage it, thanks to the availability of information on the internet for diabetes patients.

Laura Manninen

Type 1 diabetes, charity worker, editor for diabetes magazine, advocate. Finland

Laura, from Finland, has type 1 diabetes and was diagnosed aged 1. However, her diabetes has not limited her and she lives a very active and full life, playing floorball, running marathons and travelling. Laura works for the Finnish Diabetes Association as the Editor in Chief for a diabetes magazine. She combines her professional knowledge with her personal experiences, using her understanding of being someone with diabetes to help others.

Shoko Hironaka

Engineer, Panasonic Healthcare employee. Japan

Shoko Hironaka is a sensor engineer who works for Panasonic Healthcare, the sister company of Ascensia Diabetes Care that manufactures the Ascensia meters and strips. Shoko contributed significantly to the development of the algorithm for the blood glucose sensors that are manufactured by Panasonic Healthcare. She is passionate about developing solutions that can help people with diabetes to manage their disease in a better way.

Kittie Wyne

Endocrinologist, lecturer, clinician. USA

Kittie, is an endocrinologist at Ohio State, USA, specializing in type 1 diabetes, and was recently named in the Castle Connolly list of America’s Top Doctors for 2017. Kittie is passionate about helping type 1 diabetes patients manage and monitor their condition with a personalized approach to care. She organizes community-based activities and programs to provide networking opportunities for type 1 diabetes patients and their families. Kittie also works with students with diabetes through Ohio State’s chapter of the College Diabetes Network.

Olga Mikahilovna

Type 1 diabetes, social media blogger, mother. Russia

Olga, from Russia, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 10. As an adult, she suffered from retinal detachment and became partially blind in one eye due to complications of her diabetes. After five years of operations and rehabilitation for this, Olga focused on her goal of becoming a mother, despite the risk that her vision would get worse. Through very careful management of her diabetes, Olga is now a happy and proud mother. She is an active Instagram blogger, sharing her diabetes story to inspire women in Russia to manage their diabetes and become mothers.

Rosa Almeida

Type 1 diabetes, Ascensia employee, mother. Portugal

Rosa, from Portugal is a mother of two and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 27 years ago. Rosa is an employee of Ascensia Diabetes Care and has worked in the area of diabetes for more than 13 years. Working in diabetes has helped her to face her own fears and doubts about living with diabetes. One of her biggest challenges was pregnancy and being a mother with diabetes. Rosa is passionate about sharing her knowledge and experiences to help others around her.

Kathrin Schanz

Type 1 diabetes, diabetes vlogger, German table tennis champion and patient group ambassador. Germany

Kathrin, from Germany, is an active diabetes “vlogger” who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2012. Through her video blogs ”Diabeteswelt” on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, she shares her experiences to help encourage and motivate other patients with diabetes to live an active life. Kathrin is an ambassador for the German patient organization “Deutsche Diabetes-Hilfe, Menschen mit Diabetes” and speaks at various events about diabetes. She was the German National Table Tennis champion in 2016.

Marcela Kratochvílová

Event manager for PROMEDICA INSTITUT, educator. Czech Republic

Marcela is an Event Manager for PROMEDICA INSTITUT. Marcela arranges and participates in educational events for both healthcare professionals and the general public, aimed at helping to support better management and understanding of diabetes. She believes that we should never stop educating ourselves.

Nina Šajn

Type 1 diabetes, Miss Earth Slovenia winner, diabetes ambassador. Slovenia

Nina, from Slovenia, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2012. In the year she was diagnosed, Nina participated in the Miss Earth beauty pageant, after being crowned the winner in Slovenia. She is now an ambassador for the Slovenian national campaign for diabetes and as the first beauty pageant winner in Slovenia with diabetes, she wants to use her title to raise awareness of diabetes. Nina is also working on a national project for children with type 1 diabetes, due to commence next year.

Cristina Tejera

Endocrinologist, researcher, camp volunteer, blogger. Spain

Cristina, from Spain, is an endocrinologist from Complejo Hospitalario Universitario de Ferrol. Cristina conducts clinical research in various aspects of diabetes and has set herself the goal of improving the lives of all patients with diabetes that she sees. During her training, she had the chance to participate for 4 years in camps for children with diabetes that completely changed her perspective on diabetes by living with it for 24 hours a day. Cristina is an active blogger and social media advocate who shares her experiences of treating people with diabetes.

Linda Blom

Type 2 diabetes, social media community leader, blogger, documentary subject. Sweden

Linda, from Sweden, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when she was 21 years old. After 10 difficult years of feeling lonely, Linda started a Facebook group in 2011 called “Bolla Diabetestankar” for people to share and discuss their thoughts – this community now has almost 12,000 members. Linda is on the board of local and country diabetes associations and will be featured in the documentary “Leva utan att dö – en film om diabetes” that will be aired on Swedish national television on World Diabetes Day.

Nathalie Dugardin

Type 1 diabetes, nurse, patient educator, innovator. France

Nathalie, from France, has type 1 diabetes and is a diabetes nurse educator. Her goal is to empower patients by providing them with the knowledge and skills that will help them to live a ‘normal’ life. Nathalie is able to educate patients who cannot read or speak French by using pictures and exchange of experiences. Nathalie embraces technology and uses all tools available to help her patients, including the myDiabby platform for gestational diabetes.

Esra Avcı

Type 1 diabetes, social media blogger, diabetes technology reviewer. Turkey

Esra, from Turkey, has type 1 diabetes. She is the founder of the diabetes blog, “”, and runs the diyabetimben Facebook and Instagram pages, actively trying to build awareness for type 1 diabetes. Esra likes to test and review the latest diabetes technology and share her thoughts and experiences with other people through her blog. Esra also works with reputable clinical experts to organize events.

Elsa Soto

Gestational diabetes, Ascensia employee, mother. Mexico

Elsa is from Mexico and was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during her first pregnancy four years ago. At first she entered into a trance of denial and sadness but quickly adjusted and took the necessary actions to stay healthy during pregnancy. Elsa works at Ascensia Diabetes Care and her diabetes has now stopped following the birth of her child. Having experience of living with diabetes herself helps her to empathize with patients and share in their experiences.

Deborah Sandnes

Mother of a child with type 1 diabetes, caregiver, diabetes blogger. Norway

Deborah, from Norway, is the mother of a child with type 1 diabetes. As a mother, she always wants to do the right thing for her child and manages her diabetes in the best way. Deborah runs a blog called Diabetesmamma about her life as a mother of a child with diabetes, where she shares her experiences managing her daughter’s diabetes with others in the community.

Shubhda Bhanot

Diabetes educator, nutritionist, columnist, project volunteer. India

Shubhda, from India, is a Chief Diabetes Educator and Nutritionist at Medanta Hospital and an Obesity and Diabetes Education Consultant at Cloud Nine Hospital Gurgaon. She is also a columnist and contributor on the topic of diabetes for newspapers and magazines. Shubda is involved in Project Hope, training health workers on diabetes prevention and management, and runs a project to educate children and their families/teachers about lifestyle changes to prevent early onset diabetes. Shubhda has been awarded with certificate of honor for contribution to the field of diabetes care.

Monirah Alawadhi

Type 1 diabetes, sportswoman, advocate, volunteer. Kuwait

Monirah, from Kuwait, has lived with diabetes for 24 years. Being diagnosed as a child was a challenge for Monirah and her family but it didn’t prevent her from succeeding in life. She went to university, completed a Masters degree and played for Kuwait’s National Basketball Team. Monirah is part of a group called ‘BlueCirclekw’ that aims to raise awareness of diabetes and provide moral support to people living with diabetes.

Shen Xi (Cathy)

Gestational diabetes, mother. China

Shen Xi, from China, also known as Cathy, was diagnosed with gestational diabetes when she was 26 weeks pregnant. Shen likes to share her experiences of how to control blood glucose during and after pregnancy to help those who are pregnant or planning to have a family. Now, as a mother of a three year old baby, she has been able to effectively maintain her blood glucose at a normal level using diet and exercise.

Ineke Kruizenga

Paediatric nurse, educator, network president, collaborator. The Netherlands

Ineke, from the Netherlands, is a pediatric nurse at the Saint Antonius Hospital in the city of Sneek. She specializes in insulin injections, pumps, sensors and blood glucose monitoring. Ineke provides support for patients that is tailored to each specific situation, advises parents and children about the influence of diabetes in daily life and encourages self-management. Ineke is also the president of DiaFrys - a collaboration between the pediatric teams of 4 hospitals in the province of Friesland, Netherlands.

Marita Ariola

Nurse, diabetes educator, specialist in gestational diabetes. Australia

Marita, from Australia, is a nurse and diabetes educator at Canterbury Hospital in New South Wales. Marita focuses on gestational diabetes and splits her time between out-patient clinics and in-patient maternity wards in Western Sydney. She has developed specific gestational diabetes programs for migrant women in Australia and has become a key advocate for the migrant community.

Sofia Manea

Type 1 diabetes, charity worker, educator, campaigner. Greece

Sofia, from Greece, was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 11, and became a role model for many children by managing to excel at both studies and sports. Through her work, Sofia has improved the living conditions for children with diabetes in Greece, participating in awareness campaigns and educational activities to create new lifestyle attitudes related to diabetes. Sofia became the President of the Panhellenic Juvenile Diabetes Union and is responsible for creating and implementing a summer camp for children with diabetes.

Hellen Marguerite Juul

Type 1 diabetes, app developer, innovator. Denmark

Hellen, from Denmark, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a child. While on maternity leave she developed ’Gravid med diabetes’ (Pregnant with diabetes), a free app that supports successful self-management in pregnancy for women with diabetes. The app guides them through the course of their pregnancies with instant, easy-to-understand information, taking them from planning to becoming pregnant to immediate post-natal care. The app, available at, has been downloaded over 27,000 times across 186 countries and is available in Danish, Swedish and English.

Kelly L. Close

Type 1 diabetes, business leader, editor, charity founder, author. USA

Kelly, from the USA, has had diabetes for more than 30 years, and she has emerged as one of America’s most prominent voices on behalf of diabetes education and advocacy. Kelly is the founder and chairperson of The diaTribe Foundation, a nonprofit that seeks to improve the lives of people with diabetes and pre-diabetes and that advocates for action. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of, a groundbreaking patient resource that reports deeply on therapies, technologies, nutrition, research, and other factors that determine health outcomes in diabetes. Kelly is president of Close Concerns, a healthcare information firm that seeks to make everyone in the world smarter about diabetes. With Richard Wood, Kelly is also co-founder of dQ&A, a global research organization that has polls more than 12,000 people with diabetes in six countries. Kelly has authored over 25 peer-reviewed articles and co-authored the widely-praised book, “Targeting A Cure for Type 1 Diabetes: How Long Do We Have to Wait?”. In their home base of San Francisco, USA, Kelly and her husband and three children are co-hosts of the popular discussion series CPS Lectures (

Michele Krättli

Ascensia employee, event organizer, specializes in events for children with diabetes. Switzerland

Michele Krättli, from Switzerland, is an Ascensia employee and she organises events for people with diabetes. This includes specific events that are designed for children with diabetes and their families. Michele is passionate about educating people with diabetes, so that they better understand their condition and are empowered to more effectively manage their diabetes.

1 International Diabetes Federation - Diabetes Atlas 2017