Just a few hours after World Diabetes Day the media in Mexico was frightening. According to the press, diabetes has become the number one cause of death in Mexico. We all know that it is actually the complications of diabetes, due to a lack of adequate treatments and insulin, that is killing our peers.
Mexico is still incapable of working within guidelines to treat different types of diabetes. As for type 1 diabetes, there are no official statistics. We simply do not know how many people live with type 1 diabetes this country. On one hand, there are no adequate tools to diagnose type 1 diabetes, so we believe that most children die without even knowing they have it. If only they knew that with treatment they could have a happy, complication free life. On the other hand, diabetes treatments are not fully provided which means the consequences on health are dangerous.
Type 1 diabetes is an absolute out of pocket responsibility for almost every person diagnosed in Mexico. The state provides basic care unless you have already developed a complication or two, in which case you are allowed to see a specialist in another level facility. The state does not provide any glucose meters or test strips. For some of us, this very basic tool defines our way of living. Taking decisions without having a blood sugar reading is almost impossible, and of course there is no possible way to avoid complications without glucose monitoring. The insulins available are NPH and R, although some fellow advocates have managed to get analogues. But still, without having the very basic and most important tools of glucose meters and test strips, correct insulin dosages are not possible.
Diabetes complications will continue to be the first cause of death in a country that has no intention of spending higher budgets on care and prevention (which is only offered in a small percentage of the type 2 population). Instead, Mexico seems to prefer spending big amounts on complications.
What we need to make sure the government knows that insulin, glucose meters and test strips are not a luxury. We need these tools to live. We must become advocates for our own health.
I have lived with type 1 diabetes for more than 30 years. I believe health is one of my most important rights as a Mexican citizen. However, sometimes I feel this important right is not being respected. I would like to see all non-profits and diabetes organisations in my country come together and work to make change happen. We need to work on diabetes education campaigns, raise our voices to help others, and hold the government accountable. Working together, we can ensure that diabetes is no longer the first cause of death.
Mariana was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 31 years ago. She is a Psychologist and Diabetes Educator, as well as community assistant at Diabetes Hands Foundation. She blogs at www.dulcesitosparami.com and she is a diabetes advocate in Mexico City, where she was born. She has worked with different diabetes organisations in her country and she feels strongly that she cannot keep silent. She works so that other type 1s receive diabetes education, help and support.