Lejla Druškić, Global Advocate from Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a fearless speaker. Since joining T1International’s Global Advocacy Network in July 2021, she has been an invited speaker at the 3rd annual Congress of Diabetologists and Endocrinologists of Bosnia and Herzegovina, serving as a patient representative on a panel of patients and healthcare providers. This same group nominated her to the International Diabetes Federation’s Young Leaders in Diabetes Program and invited her to speak again more recently. Lejla said that despite being the only patient in a room full of doctors and even pharma reps, she made sure to talk about the insulin crisis, the need for pharmaceutical industry accountability, and her advocacy with T1International.
“Before joining T1International,” Lejla said, “I really wasn’t aware of the problems facing people with diabetes in other countries due to the list prices of insulin and other diabetes treatment supplies. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is currently no co-pay for insulin. Many other medications and devices, including insulin pumps, are available for free to patients with type 1 diabetes.” However, Lejla says that the list of covered medications and devices changes based on the economic situation of the country. She and others with diabetes fear that if there are economic problems, the government will cut the most costly products, i.e. insulin pumps and other devices deemed unessential. The government health care system could also impose co-pays on insulin and other medications. Lejla emphasized to the professional association of Diabetologists and Endocrinologists that patients are depending on them to advocate for the importance of these medications and devices for their patients’ health and wellbeing. This tactic, illustrating to healthcare professionals that they too have an important advocacy role, yielded very positive feedback from attendees, said Lejla.
In a separate effort, Lejla opened day two of the first annual World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Diabetes Compact forum, held in November of 2021. Lejla was tasked with providing a patient perspective on pressing advocacy needs in her region and globally to attendees from over 50 international organizations. That opportunity led Lejla to be invited by the WHO to be a volunteer facilitator for its focus groups for people living with diabetes about their experiences, challenges, and needs.
Lejla is committed to advocating for and providing patient education. As she advocates for the rights of people living with diabetes, Lejla is simultaneously in school for nursing and recently completed a hospital internship. Her longer-term professional goal is to become a certified diabetes educator so that she can share what she has learned from living with diabetes with others. Lejla says, “I can’t stress this point enough. Education for diabetic patients is KEY. If you invest a month into the right education of a patient and figure out the best therapy and lifestyle, you will have an empowered patient who is going to be motivated to take care of themselves. Patients who are well educated have a much smaller chance of developing complications and have a happier, better quality life.”
Speaking about what she has gained from being part of T1International, Lejla said, “When getting into a new role you want to explore in life, good guidance is the most valuable thing someone can offer; and that is exactly what T1International did. The one-on-one sessions with Global Advocacy Consultant Katie were the most useful because I truly appreciate her insight and advice. She is like a mentor to me! The monthly group calls offered a chance to see others’ perspectives and challenges. Being part of this supportive community and sharing experiences brought my advocacy skills to the next level. I always say that information is the most expensive currency because it can be very powerful. As an organization that has their standards and values defined and set, T1International offered me resources that I probably wouldn't have found in any other way. Even if you're not in the world of advocacy, but want to learn more about the world of diabetes, you will most definitely find good quality information on T1International’s various platforms.”
Just as she has benefited from her participation, Lejla is a huge asset to the Global Advocacy Network. Idea sessions between Lejla and the T1International Team resulted in the idea for and creation of a shared space where Global Advocacy Network members can upload and share diabetes advocacy and education resources that they have benefitted from with other members. Lejla provides an invaluable contribution through her active participation in group discussions and important feedback on various T1International actions and initiatives. We are excited to continue learning from Lejla and others in the Global Advocacy Network as they change the landscape of diabetes care and advocate for patient rights, both in their own countries and beyond.