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Newly Diagnosed T1 Child -- Life Expectancy in Third World: 0.6 years


06 January 2006

Newly Diagnosed T1 Child -- Life Expectancy in Third World: 0.6 years

There are all kinds of barriers to access for managing diabetes. Some barriers may be geographic, others may be economic, while many barriers are due to the lack of information available. (And this may be frustrating for patients, providers and products in that sometimes they just cannot find each other). Finally, in some areas, it is a combination of all three. Like Mozambique and Tanzania and other developing countries around the world.

Barriers may exist because state governments may not have dedicated enough funds or resources to cover the population or assist their health service teams, see BBC news story. Or barriers may exist because low-population rural infrastructures cannot finance adequate healthcare resources which may be more readily available in urban areas, see US Dept of Health Report.

What is most shocking are statistics such as this one from an October 2005 Letter to the Editor from the British Medical Journal. Because access to insulin and care is so inadequate:

“the life expectancy of a child with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes is only 0.6 years in rural Mozambique.”

This letter was written by David Beran, Project Coordinator of the International Insulin Foundation (IIF). Headquartered in London, the IIF’s Mission is to:
to study the problems that patients face accessing proper care and insulin for their diabetes in developing countries and create sustainable nation-wide access to affordable and reliable sources of insulin through projects that improve distribution and the educated use of insulin by people with Type 1 diabetes currently unable to obtain it.
The IIF's original study is here. Their objective was to assess the barriers to care for patients with insulin-requiring diabetes in Mozambique and Zambia.

Africa is used as a pulpit for how it represents humanity's failures; I believe that any hindrance to healthcare for a treatable disease is criminal whether it is in Mexico City, New Orleans or Nairobi. Consider the following:

1. Globally there is no shortage of insulin production. The above stat is a reflection of how truly far out-of-hand humanitarian efforts are when competing with the buying and selling of goods, not to mention corrupt government policies. It could be the exchange of rice, infant formula, bandages, condoms or insulin.
2. Without insulin, diabetes is fatal for T1's and T2's end-stage. Our access to this commodity (I think it has become one) is assumed and therefore, insulin is to diabetes what aspirin is to headaches. The need to replace insulin and find a cure is only truly desired by one population – IDDM diabetics and their carers. Otherwise, the need is not perceived as desperate. (Necessity, who is the mother of invention. Plato (427 BC - 347 BC))
3. Is there a way to communicate the seriousness of diabetes better? Who for you collectively represents the voice of diabetes best?


Blogger Ellen said...

Thank you for posting this. I recently posted something on the same topic at my blog. What can we as persons with access to diabetes medicines and supplies do to help others? I will pay for some insulin and supplies to be mailed to a child who needs it. If each of us could spare a little, we could help a lot. I would like to see one of the charities create an "adopt a child with diabetes" type of program. Perhaps several families could pool resources and supply each child with some of what they need. If we can at least save some children, we'll make a big difference. I do think NovoNordisk as a corporation demonstrates global social responsibility far more than Eli Lilly.

3:48 PM  

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