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02 October 2023

Movers & Shakers

Meet Elena Shelestova, Executive Secretary of the Georgian Union of Diabetes and Endocrine Associations

ElenaA die-hard optimist: that is most probably the best adjective to describe Elena Shelestova, Executive Secretary of the Georgian Union of Diabetes and Endocrine Associations. A qualified diabetes nurse educator, Elena’s experience and involvement in diabetes go back to her youth.

“My involvement in diabetes started a millennium ago!”, she recalls. “Already during my school years, I had a strong interest in health and human sciences. This is why I choose to become a nurse and an educator.”

Shortly after her graduation, Elena started to work at a Medical Centre in Georgia that actively worked on diabetes issues. That centre would later become the country’s National Center for Diabetes Research.

Highly committed to raising awareness of diabetes and improve the lives of those living with this condition in her country and across her region, Elena became a Board Member of IDF Europe in 2007, and is still a member of the Board today. “As part of IDF Europe’s team, I have met truly inspirational people. Being a member of this big European family is an experience that you cannot gain elsewhere,” Elena comments. “Europe is such a large and diverse region. It is crucial for Eastern European countries to be included and represented in IDF Europe – to make our relationship ever stronger and ever more fruitful.”  

For Elena, is it essential to have a federation that caters to the wider European region. “Whatever the issue, we need to bring every country around the table. The better we understand each other, the stronger we are in our fight against diabetes”.

Asked about what she is most proud of, Elena replies: “Being part of the development and implementation of the Conversation Maps, an educational tool to empower people with diabetes to become actively involved in managing their disease. I am so proud of all the work we carried out and of the progress that we’ve made in Eastern European countries. This wouldn’t have been possible without IDF, and without all the dedicated people here on the ground working for local diabetes associations.”

Regarding her next project in life, Elena sums it up quite well: “This world is so beautiful! Through my work, I want to make people happier and healthier. I want each of them to realize what they are capable of. I don’t care if this sounds too ambitious. I’m convinced that if we all do the best we can, the world around us will start to change.”

Favourite quote: "We cannot teach anybody anything, we only can make people think" (Socrates)