The idea of planning insulin and type 1 diabetes advocacy without patient voices and patient representation is coming to an end. Not only do patients bring value to these conversations, but it is our right to be present and involved at every level of policy-making.
We were proud that Cyrine Farhat of Lebanon represented T1International, the #insulin4all movement and people living with type 1 diabetes as one of six speakers at a collaborative virtual event* about a WHA Resolution on Access to Insulin.
The aim of the resolution is to draw the attention of Member States, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other stakeholders to the pressing need for access to insulin, and to request more resources to ensure availability, accessibility, affordability and quality for all people in need of insulin.
We thank Cyrine for her voice, which rang out loud and true. No one could deny what she stated clearly during the event: Access to insulin is a human right. Many speakers reinforced this sentiment. This is progress. We need further progress still, and we need action.
Every country on earth has people living within it who will die without insulin. The virtual event clearly established the need for strong global representation, and that the needs of low and middle income countries must continue to be front and centre. A key highlight was when the Minister of Health of Mali announced new public funding for insulin, proclaiming “Free insulin for children and young adults must be a universal right!”.
Mali is a country with a proud history and a rich culture. Like many countries, it is also facing conflict, climate change and poverty, yet they are moving forward and prioritizing people with diabetes. What excuse do countries like the United States have in not doing the same? In our view: None.
We are under no illusion that a World Health Assembly resolution on insulin will change the facts on the ground overnight. However, it will be another tool at our disposable for ensuring our rights as human beings and our dignity are upheld. During the event, the World Health Organization representative emphasized that without a mandate, they cannot take action. They need organizations, countries, and individuals to push them to action. Indeed, that is our plan, and our people-power will continue to do just that.
T1International and #insulin4all advocates have been in the streets protesting for change. We have been in newspapers, on the radio, in film, on television and active on social media. We have been advocating to our governments and to the world that people with diabetes must have access to insulin and their right to health must be recognized. We look forward to continuing to work with the WHO and other partners to pass a World Health Assembly Resolution, and to ensure that the advancement of our human rights is a reality.