Today, November 14th, in recognition of World Diabetes Day, learn more about a new global advocacy campaign started by London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Alumni aiming to achieve 100% access to insulin by the 100th anniversary of the first use of insulin in a person with Type 1 diabetes.
Disheartened by the lack of global action towards access to insulin, a small team of advocates with experience in diabetes in resource poor settings, including two London School alumni David Beran (Public Health ’02) and Merith Basey (Public Health in Developing Countries ’09) came together to launch the 100 Campaign, as part of the activities of the International Insulin Foundation (IIF).
The concept for the 100 Campaign came from a general and shared frustration that stemmed from a decade of witnessing the reality that many children and their families still did not have consistent access to affordable insulin and other diabetes supplies. Although insulin is recognized by WHO as an essential medicine that has been used for over 91 years, there are multiple barriers to access in resource poor settings around the world. Today, the life-expectancy of children with Type 1 Diabetes in some parts of Sub-Saharan Africa is still estimated to be between 7 months and 7 years[i]. By comparison, a child diagnosed with the same condition in the UK should expect to have a normal life-expectancy.
Originally hoping for an individual or existing organization to step forward and address the issue, Merith and David eventually got tired of waiting and decided to push forward with the initiative themselves. Both credit their time at the School for having prepared them for the research, intervention and advocacy work they have done.
The International Insulin Foundation (IIF) is a UK registered charity and has been active in the area of Type 1 diabetes in the developing world since 2002. On World Diabetes Day (November 14th) 2012, the IIF launched the “100 Campaign” with the goal of achieving 100% access to insulin by 2022. That year marks the 100th anniversary of insulin being used to treat a person living with Type 1 diabetes.
Leonard Thompson, a young boy in Canada, was the first person to receive insulin treatment in 1922. In present time, insulin, used in combination with the appropriate supplies, support and education, remains a life-saving drug that helps to enable those with Type 1 diabetes to live a long, full life. Despite this, globally the most common cause of death for a child with Type 1 diabetes is a lack of access to insulin – this is especially true in resource poor settings in many areas of the world.
While the barriers to insulin access exist most prominently in resource-poor countries, barriers also exist in other parts of the world, for example, the uninsured in the USA and people in Greece following the financial crisis. A major barrier to access to insulin continues to be affordability. In developing countries the cost of insulin can consume as much as 25% of a family’s income. In the USA some uninsured individuals ration their insulin to save money, and end up in emergency rooms or with avoidable diabetes-related complications. The 100 Campaign was started as a means to address these and other issues related to barriers to insulin access. The 100 Campaign aims to bring to an end the current lack of global action on the issue of access to insulin so that by 2022, all those in need of insulin will have access.
To do this, the 100 Campaign will link the in-country experience and academic research of the IIF, social media, the power of youth advocacy and the development of new tools, to improve the lives of people with Type 1 diabetes throughout the world.
For further information or opportunities for collaboration please email 100Campaign@access2insulin.org
[i] Beran D, Yudkin JS. Diabetes care in sub-Saharan Africa. Lancet 2006;368:1689-95.