My name is Paula Chinchilla, I am from Costa Rica, and I have been living with type 1 diabetes for 18 years. In Costa Rica, everyone has access to the supplies they need to control their diabetes. However, in adults’ hospitals, patients are not provided with the amount of reactive strips they need for a proper diabetes monitoring. This results in doctors prescribing a fixed amount of insulin, which reduces quality of life. Another issues is that diabetes education, especially for people with type 2 diabetes, is very poor. Many healthcare professionals even say that it is useless to provide diabetes education to people with type 2 diabetes. I receive a box of reactive strips every two months. However, in order to properly monitor my diabetes, I need one box per week. I decided to join the Blue Circle Voices network because I think that people with diabetes, together with carers and relatives of people with diabetes, we can raise our voices to change the perception that other people have of the disease.
Marcelo Gónzalez (Chile)
My name is Marcelo González, I am from Chile, and I have been living with type 1 diabetes for 31 years. In my country, people can access two health systems depending on their level of income: the public, and the private. The difference between them are the quality and quantity of supplies for diabetes care. Furthermore, education is seriously deficient. Chile is in a privileged position compared to other countries of the continent, especially in the Southern Hemisphere. In our market there is availability of most of the insulins, reactive strips, the latest glucometers, medical devices such as insulin pumps and even continuous monitoring systems. However, access is limited. And together with the lack of access, education is really deficient as I mentioned before. That is why I decided to join the Blue Circle Voices network of the International Diabetes Federation. To raise my voice so that, together, we can change the current situation.
Riva Greenberg (USA)
I am fortunate. I live in New York City where I have access to healthy restaurants, top physicians and sidewalks to stroll. Yet, last year I had to have my endocrinologist fight with my health insurance company to get me an insulin that better suited my needs. I’ve also had the privilege to travel across America for the past ten years as an A1C Champion peer-mentor. I have met thousands of people with diabetes on U.S. Medicare who are not allowed enough test strips to keep their blood glucose managed. They cannot get insulin pens, used exclusively throughout Europe, which make dosing, particularly for older people and people with type 2 diabetes, easier, more convenient and less stigmatizing. Only a few months ago, after a long battle with diabetes organizations and patients, US Medicare gave conditional approval for life-saving CGMs (continuous glucose monitors) even though the most vulnerable population to hypoglycemia are people with type 1 diabetes over the age of 60. What can we do? The US system of capitalism and share-holder value often sacrifices the needs of individuals to the benefit of the few. We must find a way to make necessary and life-improving drugs, and devices available and affordable. This effort may come from businesses, small start-ups and large corporations with consciences. Those whose values include service and meeting needs. I believe we must also educate people living with diabetes to realize that they are the key stakeholder in their care. As such, they are entitled to ask for what they need whether that is health professionals who will collaborate and partner with them, access to healthy food in their community or their government working to make medicines available and affordable.
Rakiya Kilgori (Nigeria)
In my country, Nigeria, there is no discrimination against people living with diabetes. They are given equal opportunity like any citizen.The problem we have especially in my locality and its surrounding states is ignorance about the disease. Sokoto state and some northern states of Nigeria suffer the same problem. Diabetes ailments are linked to spiritual and traditional beliefs. People believe that demons are responsible for it and hence believe that the only cure for it is herbs. Lack or inadequate health facilities hinders the detection of the disease. So many people die, especially in rural areas. Poverty is another factor that hinders the management of diabetes. The country is in recession and families cannot afford three meals. They cannot afford diabetes diet and the drugs are very expensive for the majority of the population. They can't afford insulin and glucophage and therefore resort to traditional medicine. It is so sad people die daily due to the complications of the disease.
Liliana Tieri (Argentina)
My name is Liliana Tieri and I am the Director of the CU.I.DAR association in Argentina. The first time I heard about diabetes was when my daughter was diagnosed with T1D when she was just 2 years old. It was a difficult fight, especially at the beginning, but I managed to get all the supplies and insulin to properly care for her diabetes. However, this is not the case for everyone in my country, Argentina. Even though we have laws that guarantee 100% of supplies and insulin, the health coverage does not always provide people with diabetes with access to everything they need for proper care. We always say that people with diabetes should not access just any care, they should have access to the optimal care. It is the right they have to healthcare and life.