There are at present approximately 110 million people with diabetes in the world but this number will reach over 220 million by the year 2010, the majority of them with type 2 diabetes. Thus there is an urgent need for strategies to prevent the emerging global epidemic of type 2 diabetes to be implemented. Tackling diabetes must be part of an integrated program that addresses lifestyle related disorders. The prevention and control of type 2 diabetes and the other major noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) can be cost- and health-effective through an integrated (i.e. horizontal) approach to noncommunicable diseases disease prevention and control. With the re-emergence of devastating communicable diseases including AIDS, the Ebola virus and tuberculosis, the pressure is on international and regional agencies to see that the noncommunicable disease epidemic is addressed. The international diabetes and public health communities need to adopt a more pragmatic view of the epidemic of type 2 diabetes and other noncommunicable diseases. The current situation is a symptom of globalization with respect to its social, cultural, economic and political significance. Type 2 diabetes will not be prevented by traditional medical approaches; what is required are major and dramatic changes in the socio-economic and cultural status of people in developing countries and the disadvantaged, minority groups in developed nations. The international diabetes and public health communities must lobby and mobilize politicians, other international agencies such as UNDP, UNICEF, and the World Bank as well as other international nongovernmental agencies dealing with the noncommunicable diseases to address the socio-economic, behavioural, nutritional and public health issues that have led to the type 2 diabetes and noncommunicable diseases epidemic. A multidisciplinary Task Force representing all parties which can contribute to a reversal of the underlying socio-economic causes of the problem is an urgent priority.