Today’s guest post was written by Elizabeth Rowley the Founder and Director of T1International, a charity that advocates for people with type 1 diabetes who are fighting for their lives daily due to lack of supplies, care, treatment, and education.
What if you lived with a condition that required constant care, regular medication, and other medical supplies to stay alive? What if you were unable to afford or access some or all of that care, medication, or supplies? What if you faced many additional struggles – such as poverty or discrimination – in addition to the burden of a 24/7 chronic health condition? Our friends around the world in countries including Nigeria, Pakistan, the Dominican Republic, and even the United States face this reality daily.
As small global diabetes advocacy charity, T1International is passionate about pushing for access to vital insulin, diabetes supplies, and everything else that a person with Type 1 diabetes needs to survive. Sadly, millions die a premature death because they are unable to afford or access these basic items. We believe that awareness and understanding of this problem is the first step, which will lead to better solutions and sustainable change.
Below are three reasons why T1International believes issues like diabetes and access to medicines and care need to be at the forefront of the global health agenda.
- Insulin and Diabetes Supplies can cost more than 50% of a family’s income
Treatment for diabetes can be very expensive and most people around the world have to pay for their insulin and supplies out of pocket. For many, the cost means choosing between food and insulin.
I have missed clinics due to lack of money. Many mornings I skip my injection, evenings as well, so as to balance the remaining insulin I have until I get enough money to buy the next cartridge. – Kenya
Having diabetes is very difficult because this sickness is not for poor people…when I was told that I had diabetes I said, ‘’My life is now suffering because I have no money to buy medicine and I have diabetes. What shall I do?’’ – Sierra Leone
- Discrimination and misunderstandings about diabetes are very dangerous
This is a worldwide issue that people face in all parts of the globe. It is not only frustrating, but can also be fatal.
The myths associated to diabetes in Africa, mostly due to ignorance, have not helped encourage me to disclose my diabetic status to people. For instance, I have gotten several words of advice ranging from direction to seek a spiritual cure, to a suggestion to abandon my insulin injections, with no logical alternative provided. – Nigeria
Many people who are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes will tend not to come back to the doctor and will try their luck at an alternative medicine. Once my doctor told me about a 12 year old who was diagnosed with Type 1 and was being fed regularly with 40 pieces of ‘ladu’ (a traditional sweet) by a fake spiritual healer. – Pakistan
- People with diabetes in war, crisis or emergency situations struggle to survive
After the crisis, most hospitals and dispensaries have been destroyed, their instruments stolen. Most doctors have escaped outside of the country… Access to the remaining hospitals carries a great danger and safe places are no longer safe. At this point, if someone is able to find work at all, the income is not more than $100 per month, but diabetes supplies and insulin cost at least $150 per month. The economic situation of the people who remain has gotten so bad that they cannot afford to eat and drink, so how will anyone be able to buy diabetes supplies? – Syria
T1International is sharing these powerful stories and working with communities to address the issues, first by fully understanding the problems so that we can then advocate for and implement sustainable solutions.
The 2015 World Diabetes Day #insulin4all campaign was recently launched to push for access to insulin, diabetes supplies, care, and education for all people around the world with Type 1 diabetes.
People are being asked to pledge their support for the initiative by submitting a photo of themselves holding a paper with the words ‘’We are the WORLD in World Diabetes Day #insulin4all’’ and then sharing it across social media platforms. The campaign theme is meant to unite the global diabetes and health community as a collective force standing together to advocate for a better life for everyone with diabetes worldwide.
You can submit your photo to the #insulin4all Tumblr account between now and November 14th (World Diabetes Day). Visit www.t1international.com to join the wider advocacy movement for all people with Type 1 diabetes.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the APPG.