Lack of Modern diabetes Technology in Croatia
In Croatia, we have National Health Insurance (NHI). Through that system we had rights, but we were way behind western European countries. With the rights we had, our lives were still full of worries about the amount of test strips we could get from insurance. We also did not have access to modern technology through NHI. The insulin pump situation is only a little better, but we have just one type of insulin pump and the number of pumps is very limited. Pharmaceutical companies refer to Croatia as small and poor market and therefore we are not seen as important.
Advocacy for More Strips
Two years ago we had a very successful public campaign to raise the number of test strips covered by the government for people with diabetes younger than 18. We gathered medical professionals, patients and media to create huge public pressure on the National Health Insurance. And we succeeded!
Our hope was to repeat that success with our project for continuous monitoring. The overall aim of the project was for continuous monitoring to become available under insurance/reimbursement for all people on insulin. We wanted to show that people living with diabetes have a right to “Life with less pain”!
Initiative “Life with Less Pain”
The goals were to create a positive public opinion and to pressure continuous glucose manufactures to come to Croatia with their products and apply to National Health Insurance for reimbursement. We would then put the pressure on the national insurance to cover these products. All three actions were crucial for success.
As with the test strip campaign, we gathered people living with Diabetes, medical professionals, politicians and media. We were connected through a Facebook group to exchange knowledge and ideas. Everyone was involved – patients, parents, associations, grandparents, friends, children, etc. Many of them knew someone in the media, National Health Insurance, Ministry of Health or politics so they helped make connections. Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody important.
We wanted to show to diabetics that we are not alone, and because of that we organized a petition with more than 7,000 signatures (which is a lot for a small country). Almost all active diabetic associations signed the initiative and pushed it forward. The biggest, Zagreb Diabetic Association, played a crucial role showing the importance of the right to choice.
We asked and received official support from a number of very important politicians like the President of the Republic of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, and the President of the Croatian Parliament, Andrej Plenković. We also contacted media with interesting stories about life with diabetes. We showed that people living with diabetes could be stars! We were all very excited about each article in the newspapers, TV or radio show.
An important meeting with the Minister of Health was held with all stakeholders including the Ministry, insurance, people living with diabetes and medical experts.
What we achieved
The Initiative started 1.5 years ago and we recently learned that from August, 2018, children under the age of 18, pregnant woman and blind people will have the right to free continuous glucose monitoring technology covered by the Croatian health insurance.
Other people living with type 1 diabetes can get a CGM with “proven hypoglycaemia in hospital conditions”. There was lot of misunderstanding about that new term, but eventually we received an explanation. According to the information, we believe that a reasonable number of adult people will also be able to benefit from this modern technology. Of course, the final goal is that every person on insulin is able to use a CGM through National Health Insurance.
Our initiative had no funding and we used social media to communicate effectively. We achieved our goal thanks to the persistence of people living with diabetes coming together to make a change!