Living with diabetes, and having your blood sugar levels within the required range needs a lot of attention, focus, dedication. Above all, the availability of diabetes supplies, medication, and an amount of money to be spent on monthly basis on doctor checkups, treatments if you don't have an insurance coverage is vital.
Here in Kuwait, some patients living with diabetes don't have insurance coverage and the diabetes supplies such as blood glucose testing devices, as well as certain healthcare, such as the dentist, are not covered by the ministry of health. The amount that has to be spent from our own pockets is large.
I spend no less than $200 on diabetes supplies, no less than $330 on doctor appointments each month. Living with diabetes is costly, and to be able to have better blood glucose levels you have to be able to have accessibility to medication and proper education.
Without access to medication and education, this can lead to uncontrollable blood sugar levels, which can lead to diabetes complications in the future.
I believe there must be a comprehensive insurance coverage for people living with diabetes, as well as a health program such as membership to gyms in reasonable prices since working out has a positive impact on insulin resistance and helps to maintain better sugar levels and reduces stress levels. Accessibility to healthy and organic food is a struggle because it is cheaper to have an unhealthy meal than having a meal full of nutrition.
There should be a universal approach towards reducing the cost of medication, diabetes supplies as well as doctor appointments, that will have an impact on the complications related to diabetes in the long term. It will also have a great impact on the budget of the country to be able to avoid the complications and hospital visits in future.
To make a difference in all of these areas, I have founded The Diabetes Ambassadors Program (DAP). Our mission is to raise awareness about diabetes and our vision is to live a healthy and a productive life with diabetes. Most importantly, we wish to empower people with diabetes. It was set up in 2014 and covers topic such as Education and Awareness, Advocacy, Group Support, and Self-management.
The Education and Awareness component includes lectures and social media posts. The lectures in schools are presented by people living with type 1 diabetes who tell their stories and also inform people about what type 1 diabetes is, including symptoms, blood sugar levels and treatments, and the events undertaken by the group. So far, we have delivered lectures in more than 24 places including schools, private and government sector, non-profit organizations and fitness centers.
In terms of Advocacy, DAP attends local and international workshops and congresses and appears on TV & Radio interviews. DAP is also currently working with T1International to utilize and implement an action plan from the Diabetes Access Advocacy Toolkit. Part of the plan will involve the development of a Kuwait law that protects the rights of people living with diabetes, either for their career growth, or for social and children’s rights.
The Group Support sessions will start in 2018 and will be an opportunity for people living with diabetes to have an open discussion about a specific subject related to diabetes. We will also have guest interviews of people living with diabetes or spouses, parents, and family members of people with diabetes.
Self-management sessions will be focused on the daily routine of people living with diabetes and their experience with sports, extreme sports, travel, adventure, as well as their involvement in social responsibility activities, which will reflect the knowledge and well-being of people living with diabetes.
We are also planning to have a campaign trip abroad for teenagers living with diabetes, mentored by adults living with diabetes, with different types of activities such as hiking, cycling, rafting, soccer, basketball and rope climbing. The main purpose of this camp trip is to help adolescents to cope with diabetes. We will give them an opportunity to see a living example of an adult living a healthy and a productive life with diabetes.
You can follow The Diabetes Ambassadors Program online.