Many misconceptions are associated with diabetes, but it’s a complex condition that predominately affects people in two forms. You have type 1 and type 2; type 1 diabetes is typically caused by an autoimmune response in which the immune system attacks insulin making cells in the pancreas. The cause hasn’t been confirmed and the healthiest individuals can be affected.
It’s Not Only the U.S.
While diabetes is prevalent in the U.S., it’s making a painful mark on countries around the world. It has been speculated that rates of type 1 aren’t high in some poverty stricken countries because people die quickly after diagnosis, since they don’t have access to insulin. Insulin is life: Type 1 diabetics around the world are dying without it.
Say Hello to T1International
T1International is aiming to change the world for diabetics. Their website states that they are “working toward access and affordability of access to insulin, diabetes supplies, medical care and education for all people living with type 1 diabetes.” Awareness is raised through personal stories form type 1 diabetics, statistics and other data, as well as providing knowledge to those supporting the cause through the T1International Advocacy Tool Kit.
Recently, the head of T1International, Elizabeth Rowley, traveled to Uganda to take part in a camp hosted by the Sonia Nabeta Foundation, who also advocates for type 1 diabetics and their need for supplies in in Africa. Elizabeth and Stephen Nabeta began the foundation in honor of their daughter, Sonia Stephanie Clarissa Kyagaba Nabeta, who lost her battle with type 1 diabetes in 2015.
Rowley and her travel partner, Gavin Griffiths, were able to inspire not only hope in the camp’s attendees, but a passion to push for change. With the Advocacy Tool Kit, Rowley spent several sessions explaining how to effectively fight for the things they need to survive. Their current goal is to constructively create a plan to get the government to commit to providing one daily syringe to each diabetic by the end of the year. Ugandan diabetics depend on donations, which can often be uncertain, and syringes are a crucial part of care. T1International made a profound impact in Uganda and continues to do so in other areas.
Type 1 Diabetes Around the World
Low income individuals in Bolivia often die as they do not have access to proper healthcare. Patients wait in long lines to see doctors; natural remedies are often used in place of insulin, leading to severe complications and death. Much of the insulin in Bolivia has been smuggled in and sometimes is of poor quality, which also causes complications.
Venezuelans have little to no access to insulin or blood sugar strips. Parents of diabetic children will opt to not inject insulin when they are unable to test blood sugar. Too much insulin could cause a life threatening condition known as hypoglycemia, but high blood sugar can result in death as well. Unfortunately, it’s a lose-lose situation.
Thailand is praised for having a great healthcare system, and they do have great healthcare that is accessible to those who work. But there is little education of what type 1 diabetes is, therefore the care is inadequate. People die because the disease is not understood. Advocacy can prove to be extremely important in these places because it helps create a knowledge base and understanding.
Even in the U.S., diabetics aren’t getting the insulin they need because of astronomical prices. Here, in our own country, people are dying because of this.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a United Nations document drafted by diverse individuals worldwide, in effort to set a standard of principals in which our world should live upon. “It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages,” states the UN’s site. Article 3 in this document reads, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” The right to life; we all have the right to life. To me, it seems we are stripping type 1 diabetics of the right to live by denying them a medication they cannot live without.
In 1921, Frederick Banting and Charles H. Best discovered insulin and handed the patent over to the University of Toronto, and ultimately Eli Lilly, because they wanted it to be distributed to everyone who would need it. Their intent was not to make money, but their fears are now a reality; many diabetics don’t have access.
People have been spreading the word through the #insulin4all tag and by signing the T1International charter. The charter shows how many supporters stand behind diabetic rights and can be an influencer in making big changes in governments. Five key rights that diabetics need to live a full, healthy life are:
1. The right to insulin.
2. The right to manage your blood sugar.
3. The right to diabetes education.
4. The right to healthcare.
5. The right to live a life free from discrimination.
By simply educating yourself on the matter, sharing the #insulin4all tag and signing the charter, you are giving diabetics everywhere a fighting chance.
Photos courtesy T1International.
Karyn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.